Shaky monarchy: Thailand today, Spain, GB tomorrow?
There is almost nothing in the media about the mass protests of Thai students against the monarchy. King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit still enjoyed the respect of the Thai people, while the son is seen as an immoral playboy and bon vivant and enjoys no respect. Although Bhumipol was also corrupt and had built up a considerable fortune that made him a multi-billionaire, he was considered close to the people and social, as he dedicated himself to the fight against poverty through charity and agricultural projects for precarious farmers and visited the villages in a media-effective manner, while his son is staying more in his villas in Bavaria and abroad, especially since a lawsuit by the Bavarian state for tax evasion over 3 billion euros is pending, which is why the royal plane had already been confiscated. Previously unthinkable and it would have sparked an international diplomatic crisis. He was also a victim of the Bild newspaper, which photographed him in a sleeveless T-shirt with full-body tattoos running around in shorts in public and raised doubts about his royal dignity. A Bhumipol in boxer shorts-unthinkable. In addition, the son was said to have all sorts of sex scandals and even connections to the Thai underworld and the Chinese triads. Bhumipol’s son has now been enthroned, but it is interesting that there are no pictures of the new king in the Thai snack bars in my area.
When I was in Thailand in the 90s, lease majesty was considered a serious criminal offense with a draconian punishment, and that could be a joke or a harmless remark. Also towards foreigners. A Dutchman who made jokes about the king on a Thai Airlines plane was dragged off the plane and taken to the Bangkok Hilton (nickname for the Bangkok prison). A tourist who relieved himself under the king’s poster was the victim of an angry lynch mob. Media people ran the risk of ending up in prison if they criticized the monarchy. In addition, the media speculation as to whether Bhumipol resolved the succession by shooting his brother was considered an absolute taboo. The official version was that of an unfortunate accident in which a shot went off and killed the brother.
If you went to the cinema, every film had a 10 minute opening with a PR film of the royal house and the national anthem that made everyone stand up. Young Thais who disliked and tried to avoid this ritual were simply coming into the film 10 minutes later. During the Bloody May Riots in the early 1990s, during which I was doing research with Michael Montesano from the Fulbright Foundation in Bangkok, the king was the balancing figure. The two warring opposition leaders had to kneel in front of the king and apologize live on TV. But under Bhumipol it would have been unthinkable for students and Thais to demonstrate against the monarchy. However, what is completely ignored in Western reporting is that the protests in Thailand are not just anti-monarchist student protests, but they symbolize a new, modern and young democracy movement that is crystallizing in the so-called “Milk Tea Alliance”, which intends to become a pan-Asian democracy movement which already unites with the young democracy movements in Hong Kong (umbrella movement) and Taiwan (sunflower movement) organizationally and programmatically.
But the monarchy is also in crisis in Spain. The savior of the Spanish democracy, Juan Carlos, who only made a bad name for himself through corruption and other scandals has now left the country for the UAE to avoid court proceedings. But let’s wait and see if Charles can follow the oversized footsteps of the Queen’s death. But that should be the concern of society experts, gossip reporters, coffee aunts and other consumers of the rainbow press, royal glamor papers and the yellow press