A New Era

Asian Geographic - - Heritage -

The king of Thai­land, Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, has been king for less than a year, in­her­it­ing the crown on the death of his fa­ther, the much-loved King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, in Oc­to­ber 2016. He was ed­u­cated in the UK and Aus­tralia, as well as in Thai­land, and af­ter be­com­ing crown prince, had to wait more than 40 years to fi­nally as­cend to the throne. Dur­ing this time, he served in the armed forces, was or­dained as a monk, and set up a se­ries of projects in health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, and agri­cul­ture, thus gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence out­side the palace walls.

What ex­act po­lit­i­cal role the new king will have in Thai­land is yet to be con­firmed. He re­quested changes to the in­terim con­sti­tu­tion af­ter it was ap­proved in a 2016 ref­er­en­dum, and the fol­low-up gen­eral elec­tion is yet to take place.

How­ever, his place as head of state seems as­sured. Thai­land has had no fewer than 19 con­sti­tu­tions and char­ters since it be­came a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy in 1932, but ev­ery sin­gle gov­ern­ment has ac­cepted the hered­i­tary monarch as the head of state. The Thai regal po­si­tion gained in both in­flu­ence and wealth un­der the late King Bhu­mi­bol. left A por­trait of the late Thai King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej right Thai­land’s King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn at the Ananta Sa­makhom Throne Hall of Dusit Palace in Bangkok

“Why is it that the king can do no wrong? This shows they do not re­gard the king as be­ing a hu­man. But the king can do wrong” – King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej (1927–2016) Thai­land has had no fewer than 19 con­sti­tu­tions and char­ters since it be­came a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy in 1932

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