The higher visibility of the Thai Monarch and his Queen has been a positive for the country in recent weeks and has helped buoy spirits in the kingdom, despite and in marked contrast to the ongoing strife on the streets which has sometimes boiled over into violence.
The Thai King and Queen flew to southern Thailand on Saturday for several engagements. As the student-led protest movement carries on its relentless protest campaign against the government of General Prayut Chan ocha, there is rising anxiety amongst the public as to how the political crisis in the country will ultimately resolve itself. Economists are also warning that it is having an impact on both business and consumer confidence. However, in these last months, Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida have raised the profile of the monarchy in the kingdom as they appear to have taken on a more visible role with heartwarming scenes wherever they go from loyal subjects which have served to highlight the unique and powerful role of the institution particularly at this time of tension and anxiety as the kingdom faces multiple crises.
On Sunday, protesters massed outside a key army barracks in the Bang Khen district of Bangkok as police with razor wire and water cannon trucks guarded the entrance to the headquarters of the 11th Infantry Regiment on the Phahon Yothin Road.
Security sources have told the government, this week, that they expect the student-led protest movement to continue its campaign as Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, awaits a critical ruling of the Constitutional Court on Wednesday which could see him removed from office ever his tenancy of a military home even though he ceased to be an army commander after the 2014 coup.
Violent protests, last week, saw six people receive gunshot wounds while a protest outside the Siam Commercial Bank in Bangkok on Wednesday led to one person being injured when gunshots went off.
Flew into Trang Airport on Saturday
Meanwhile, King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida have been touring the kingdom. They have been seen at a wide array of events from the North of Thailand in Udon Thani to this weekend when the King and Queen flew into Trang Airport on Saturday to attend an event in Phatthalung province.
Queen Suithida drew gasps of appreciation from the crowd as she emerged from the Royal aircraft wearing Batik cloth which is part of the cultural identity of Southern Thailand.
The regions of Thailand are quite different from each other with Bangkok, Central Thailand and also the kingdom’s Northern and Eastern provinces having divergences in dress and other cultural aspects.
Later opened a shrine in Phatthalung
The Thai Monarch was greeted at Trang Airport by well-wishers and later went on to Phatthalung Province where he opened the Phatthalung City Pillar Shrine.
In the last two weeks, the King and Queen have been seen at an array of events in Bangkok including a memorable visit to one of the city’s mass transit systems and events at the Royal Palace.
Grants of lands to key universities last Sunday at an official ceremony at the Palace in Bangkok
Last Sunday, the 22nd November, the Monarch presented title deeds of land to two prestigious universities.
The Director-General of Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University received a royal title deed of over 60 rai of land while the Director-General of Suan Dusit University received the title deed to over 37 rai.
Udon Thani visit where King Maha Vajiralongkorn wrote notes of unity to those who met him
On the 10th of November, their Majesties were in the northern city of Udon Thani for the opening of a new Juvenile and Family Court building in the city, home to many foreigners and expats.
The visit came a few days after a protest in Bangkok had attempted to march on the palace and after protesters sent a letter to the King in a symbolic post box.
The student protesters are calling for more constitutional oversight of the powers vested in the monarchy, a move that, according to opinion polls, is not supported by the Thai public and is resolutely opposed by the ruling party in government, Palang Pracharat.
Greeted in Udon Thani on November 10th last, in touching scenes, the King wrote messages and handed them to some of the people he met calling for a greater sense of unity and love among Thais.
‘Love the nation, love the people, cherish Thainess, real happiness,’ was one of the notes written by the King as he met his loyal subjects in the northeastern city.
Power of Thailand’s monarchy still in evidence
All those who come to meet the King and Queen of Thailand wear yellow which is the colour of the monarchy and the old Kingdom of Siam.
The power of the monarchy in Thailand can never be underestimated.
Offhand remarks made by the King to foreign news channel CNN at the beginning of this month suggesting that Thailand was the ‘land of compromise’ and expressing love for all people in Thailand equally, actually helped to create a more constructive environment for a short period, one that politicians have been unable to recreate since.