Events this week show that the Thai public still retains strong support for the monarchy but also wants to see more unity in politics and some negotiated resolution to the standoff between student-led protests and the government. 66% of people are not satisfied with the current Prime Minister General Prayut Chan ocha’s handling of the current crisis.

The presence of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his consort Queen Suthida at anniversary ceremonies for King Rama V or Chulalongkorn in Bangkok, on Friday, drew large crowds of fervent supporters and comes as a poll showed a large majority of Thai people do not agree with plans reform the institution of the monarchy.

Scenes from central Bangkok on Friday night last as King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his consort Queen Suthida walked to their palace after ceremonies on the anniversary of King Rama V. The royal couple were acclaimed by devoted followers and picked out two in the crowd for praise as an opinion poll on Sunday showed that over 60% of the Thai public want to see the monarchy free of political demands and the current crisis despite the insistence of students in calling for reform of the revered institution.

A poll published on Sunday by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University with a large sample of over 5,700 people across the kingdom, showed that over 60% of the Thai public do not want the student-led protests to infringe on the monarchy.

The poll, which had mixed results for both sides of the political struggle, comes as supporters of the ruling government party, Palang Pracharat, are increasingly identifying themselves with those who express support for the royal institution.

The poll showed an even stronger majority calling for talks between the government and the protesters at over 72% and categorically rejected violence from either side.

66% disapprove of Prayut’s handling of the crisis

On Saturday night, the Thai Prime Minister stared down an ultimatum from the resurgent, student-led protests for his ouster leaving a stalemate situation with both sides, at this point, appearing unwilling to compromise.

However, the poll had some bad news for General Prayut showing that over 66% of the Thai public does not approve of his handling of the current political crisis.

Redshirt leader has consistently warned student leaders not to pursue calls for monarchial reform

Earlier, at the outset of the protests in July, veteran pro-democracy activist and Redshirt leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, Japtuporn Prompan, had warned the protest leaders against their present course relating to the monarchy.

On Friday night and Saturday in Bangkok, there were touching scenes near the Grand Palace in the centre of the city when Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida emerged from ceremonies commemorating the anniversary, on October 23rd, of Thai King Chulalongkorn or Rama V.

King Chulalongkorn, Thailand’s reforming monarch who forged closers links with the West

King Chulalongkorn is seen in Thailand as a great, reforming monarch and is still remembered affectionately in the kingdom, even in this era, with his portrait to be seen in many homes and offices.

The 23rd of October is known as Wan Piyamaharaj Day or King Chulalongkorn Day in memory of the Thai monarch who first ushered in liberal reforms in Thailand and who retained extensive links with European countries, in particular, the United Kingdom.

Enthusiastic crowds in yellow cheer the royal couple

On Friday, the present Thai King and his Queen laid a wreath at a statue erected to Rama V in the Royal Plaza. 

On their walk back to the Supreme Court at the Dusit Palace near Rajdamnoen Road in Bangkok, the King and his consort encountered excited supporters and well-wishers.

Nearly all were wearing yellow and calling out ‘Long Live the King’ and other refrains long associated with the royal cause, such as ‘Keep fighting King’.

Videos and photos emerged from the scene and people shared their meetings with the royal couple.

Man’s joy at praise from King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida for his protest stand last week

In the course of the journey, Queen Suthida pointed out to the King one man who had attended a student protest earlier in the week and was widely covered on TV holding aloft a portrait in support of the monarchy.

‘This man held a poster amid the protesters. Thank you very much. I remember. Thank you so much,’ Queen Suthida informed the King who responded by walking towards the man in the crowd. ‘Very brave. Very brave. Very good. Thank you,’ he said.

The Thai man was overjoyed: ‘Long Live Your Majesty. I love you so much. Long Live your Majesty.’ 

He told the King and Queen that it was the happiest moment of his life after the king further expressed his appreciation. ‘We’re so proud of what you’ve done. Thank you so much,’ said the Queen.

After the royal couple walked off, the man is reported to have broken down in tears. ‘Their Majesties remember me!’, he cried out.

Thitiwat Tanagaroon, the man in question and reported to be a restaurant manager, has said he will frame the T-Shirt he was wearing on Friday night when speaking with news agency Reuters.

‘The king tapped his hand on my shoulder very hard when he said thank you. I will put the shirt I wore in a frame,’ the 49-year-old recalled.

King thanks loyal former PDRC leader who came out with his supporters to rally for the monarchy

During the walk, the royal couple also met a Mr Suvit Thongprasert once known as Luang Pu Buddha Isara who was a radical voice in the former yellow shirt protest organisation, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) which coordinated the massive and disruptive protests against the elected Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2013 and 2014.

These protests led ultimately to the 2014 army coup which ushered General Prayut into power as PM.

The King took some time to praise Mr Suvit on Friday for his activism in support of the monarchy which has been reawakened by the current student protests.

The presence of the King and Queen in Bangkok at the ceremonies at the end of last week for King Rama V and before that, at those for his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has focused on and emphasised the deep devotion that still exists towards the monarchy in Thailand in both the heart and the psyche of a large proportion of the Thai people.

Get all our latest stories, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here

Further reading:

PM says he is not resigning but seeks resolution as key protest leader, Anon, chooses to stay in prison

Top minister accuses protesters of imperiling economic recovery and the health of Thai people at this time

Large protest turnout in Bangkok on Wednesday pushed for the PM to go with a 3-day ultimatum

Prime Minister’s position has been weakened by protests as progressive leader says he must go to allow talks

Protests on the streets creating political tensions as PM warns the public only the country will lose

Press conference given by activist and Progressive Movement leader checked by abrupt police visit

Rally’s march on Government House surprises officials with a larger turnout and police in retreat

Police arrest 21 protesters in Bangkok attempting to block the road to be used for planned Royal motorcade

Smaller crowd expected at rally on Wednesday as police gear up security cordon with checkpoints

Police say students have no permission to protest as army chief warns that security will be upheld

New army chief takes the helm this week amid growing tensions and rising public apathy toward politics

Criminal charges likely against student leaders as mysterious ‘People’s Party’ plaque goes missing

Students submit a reform petition to the Privy Council, call for a General Strike in Thailand on October 14th

March on government to go ahead on Sunday as rally organisers appear to focus on the monarchy reform plans

Western foreigners being blamed by ultra-right for this latest wave of radical student protests

Raised concerns for the defiant student protest being planned for next Saturday and Sunday

Exasperated PM loses patience with press corps over ‘distorted’ online speculation of a coup amid tensions

Army chief denies and rejects rumours of a likely coup as the country faces crisis on key fronts

Shock resignation of Minister of Finance a sign of more politics being demanded in government

Thailand stuck in a ‘vicious cycle’ which will lead to further military coups says leading academic

New ministers take the reins in a formal audience with King Rama X & Queen Suthida at Dusit Palace

New cabinet lineup in Royal Gazette but economic damage now extending into parts of the property market

Warning signs in new banking and employment reports as virus crisis hits Thailand’s bottom line hard

Thailand may have to live with the virus but can recover in two years says outgoing central bank chief

June export figures show a 23% decline on last year but the economy will recover by end of 2021

Prime Minister indicates that the cabinet reshuffle will be complete very shortly with no problem

Somkid ready to bow out of government as September cabinet reshuffle seems to be on the cards

Plans to relaunch tourism from China thrown out as conflicting reports emerge of a new swine flu virus threat

Election of a new ruling party leader, shifts focus now to the future of the economics czar Somkid and his team

Banks ordered to cease dividends and shore up balance sheets on fears of loan quality erosion due to slump

Thai economy in even greater peril as Covid 19 shutdown appears to have had a bigger impact than expected

Election of Prawit as Palang Pracharat leader will see more grassroots politics in government

Emergency decree extended by Thai government but politics behind the scenes abuzz with PPP party heave

92% of suicides due to the virus are among the self-employed according to expert research group in academia

Government moves to clarify that it is not seeking cash from the kingdom’s richest business leaders in overture