A dying king, a hated crown prince, and Thailand in turmoil

The succession of the next royal head of Thailand is a tale of palace intrigue fit for a king. Here is an excerpt of International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe‘s new column, Uneasy lies the head that wears Thailand’s Crown:

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok in 2010. Photo by Bhumibol_Adulyadej, Government of Thailand
Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok in 2010. Photo by Bhumibol_Adulyadej, Government of Thailand

It’s a story that would have William Shakespeare licking his lips and sharpening his quill.

The tale has everything that excited the creative juices of The Bard.

There’s a dying king, much loved and revered by his people for his care for their wellbeing. But waiting in the wings is a hated, rapacious and vindictive Crown Prince. Even the most fervent royalists among the people are consumed with anxiety about what may happen when the prince assumes the throne and grasps the powers of monarchy. There is a rival for the crown, the king’s daughter, who has earned the public’s affection because of her charity and good works. But it is unclear whether she has the desire or the will to challenge her brother for the throne.

There is the politically powerful and involved Queen, the king’s consort. She defends her husband’s interests, as she sees them, in alliance with scheming and manipulative palace officials.

In the background are three discarded princesses, wives of the Crown Prince. With them are their children, some of whom have lost their royal birthrights.

Beyond the palace walls are hugely wealthy merchants intent on limiting the power of the monarchy. And on the streets is an emotionally charged population, riven into factions, and all-too-often primed for violence.

This could be imperial Rome, medieval Denmark or Scotland, or Plantagenet England. But it is modern day Thailand… log in* to read  Uneasy lies the head that wears Thailand’s Crown

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