Asia

Thai king's favourite dog Tongdaeng dies

File photo of Tongdaeng the dog Image copyright AFP
Image caption There has also been an animated film made about Tongdaeng's life

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej's favourite dog, Tongdaeng, who became a national celebrity, has died at the age of 17.

The king adopted Tongdaeng in 1998 as a puppy and wrote a book praising her loyalty and obedience.

Last month, a man was charged with insulting Tongdaeng on social media and could face up to 37 years in jail under Thailand's lese-majeste laws.

The strict laws protect the king and his family against defamation.

As he has aged, King Bhumibol's public appearances have become more scarce - but until recently, when he did appear, it was often in the company of the reddish-brown dog Tongdaeng, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

The name means "red-gold", or "copper", in Thai.

The book he wrote about her became a huge bestseller in Thailand, where it was seen as a plea from the much loved monarch for his people to behave better, our correspondent says.

However, it was not enough to stop the country descending into a bitter and protracted political conflict from which it has yet to emerge, and which has drawn in the monarchy, with increasing numbers of people being given long prison sentences for defaming the royal family, he adds.

Tongdaeng's death will doubtless remind Thais of the increasing frailty of the 88-year-old king, and of the anxiety and uncertainty which still surrounds the succession to a new monarch, he says.

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