The billionaire king of Thailand is running out of friends, at home and abroad.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of his time in Germany, in a hotel in the Bavarian Alps accompanied by a modern harem of up to 20 wives, has now been warned by Angela Merkel’s government not to conduct state affairs from the ground German.
His residence there, which was revealed at the start of the coronavirus crisis when the hotel asked for special permission to stay open, has become a sticking point for unprecedented protests in Thailand against the repressive state and its semi royal family. -divine.
The protests were inflamed by reports of the king̵
Being one of the king’s girlfriends is not without risk, however, as illustrated by the fate of his “official” mistress, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, 35, who was called Chao Khun Phra, meaning “noble royal consort”, shortly after marrying his fourth wife, Queen Suthida.
In October 2019, it was announced that Sineenat had been stripped of her title in a statement to the palace calling her “ungrateful” for waging a rivalry with Queen Suthida.
She is believed to have spent ten months in prison, but earlier this year she was restored to her former position, with a statement published in the Government Official Gazette saying that Sineenat was “unspoiled” and therefore entitled to the title of noble royal consort and all her previous posts inside the palace.
As reported recently by the Daily Beast, Vajiralongkorn also allegedly built an extraordinary fleet of 38 jets and helicopters for the exclusive use of the Thai royal family.
News of his medieval privilege, not broadcast by traditional local media due to strict bans, is now returning to the country via social media and Facebook. Thailand earlier this year tried to get Facebook to remove a group critical of the monarchy that had more than a million members, but failed.
His existence abroad led to him being nicknamed “The German” by some protesters.
Although he returned to Thailand on Saturday and is expected to remain there until the end of the month, the king’s de facto residence in Bavaria has now begun to raise eyebrows in Germany as well, with Merkel’s government explicitly stating last week that The Thai king is expected to stop conducting state affairs while in Germany.
Maria Adebahr, spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry, said the government had repeatedly stressed to the Thai ambassador in Berlin that “the state’s foreign affairs should not be pursued from German soil”, adding: “We have clarified our position”.
The issue even reached the German parliament. Frithjof Schmidt, an MP for the opposition Greens, asked why the German government allowed the king to engage in domestic politics from Bavaria for months. Heiko Maas, the foreign minister, replied: “We would always like to clearly thwart the efforts of guests in our country to conduct state affairs from our country.”
Schmidt, along with many Germans, is deeply uncomfortable that their country can actually provide a headquarters for a repressive regime: Schmidt cited the example of the king’s role in unilaterally preventing his older sister, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, from run as a candidate in the March 24 election.
The move against the princess was widely seen as further evidence of a skewed run in which the prime minister and leader of the 2014 Thai coup, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, had an unfair advantage, as 250 Senate members who help chose PMs were simply selected by the junta.
Strict laws that prevent direct criticism of the monarch, his family, and even his pets are being openly and widely challenged for the first time as part of the ongoing student-led protests against the government.
“It’s the biggest problem of all in Thailand,” Chiwarak al Parit “Penguin” said Financial Times. “The royal institution can interfere in politics because they have enough money.
“If we don’t say it now, when will we say it?”
Opponents of the Thai royal family’s dominance and privilege have been encouraged in recent months as student demonstrations against the establishment have seen their numbers increase. Thailand is battling a deep recession caused by COVID-19 and the collapse of the fundamental tourism trade.