After a 70-year reign, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand passed away in what will be a trying time period for a country that has been governed by a constitutional monarchy fordecades.
Although Thailand functioned under a monarchy where Adulyadej was more of a ceremonial figure than the head of an executive branch, he held a lot of power because his popularity. He was truly considered a king who was for his kingdom. He would travel frequently during his reign, engaging in intimate conversation with farmers, opium growers and other denizens. An affable ruler, Adulyadej’s great influence drew largely from his popularity among royalists in Thailand’s government, who supported the monarchy.
During the time of Adulyadej’s rule, he stopped a few coups effortlessly, living up to the meaning of his first name, “strength of the land.” Aside from the coups, Adulyadej was a well-educated man. After being crowned at 18, the young king continued his studies on law and political science in Switzerland. He also had a host of other interesting hobbies such as yacht racing and music and had extensive knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and dam construction.
Following the death of the inspiring monarch, the country has been left holding its breath as to what will happen to its existing government. The heir to the throne, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, reflects none of his father’s characteristics and integrity.
Even though Thailand has strong laws that limit negative talk about the royal family, Vajiralongkorn is widely regarded as a playboy without political interests. In an alarming and capricious move, the prince gave his pet poodle the title of an air chief marshal in the Thai military. This itself speaks to the kind of man who is soon expected to take the throne.
Vajiralongkorn also has none of his father’s charisma, seemingly resorting to the use of fear and violent intimidation to elevate his position and increase power. In recent months, he spent his time purging the government of officials that his father set up. He is known as a disgusting womanizer with a taste for extravagance and self-indulgence. Vajiralongkorn has even gone as far as to strip several of his own children of their titles and names, forcing them to live in exile.
The direction Thailand will go in is still to be decided. However, one thing is certain—Thailand will soon find itself in deep water under the rule of Vajiralongkorn. He is about to be handed a title that will only give him more power than a careless man can handle. Hopefully, the worst he will do with the country is give out more high-ranking titles to his pets.