Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Thai palace releases photos of king and consort visiting prisons, sweeping floors

Such people-friendly appearances have become more common since the king returned to Thailand amid growing protests about his activities.

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Photographs of King Maha Vajiralongkorn visiting prisons with his royal consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, have been released by the Thai palace as the royal family steps up public appearances following mass protests demanding reforms to the monarchy.

In a segment on the nightly royal TV bulletin on Saturday, the king and his consort – restored to her position last year after having been disgraced and stripped of her titles – are shown inspecting projects in jails across Thailand. The segment also featured interviews with inmates speaking about the benefits of the projects, Reuters reports.

Such people-friendly appearances have become more common since the king returned to Thailand with Queen Suthida and his entourage amid unprecedented protests calling for changes to the monarchy.

Conservative tradition views the Thai monarch as semi-divine and above criticism, so demonstrations against his newly expanded powers broke that long-standing taboo.

The palace has made no official comment on months of protests, although the king, when asked late last year what he would say to those demonstrating, told British Channel 4 News that, “We love them all the same.”

Soon after arriving back from Germany, where he spent most of 2020, the King, Queen Suthida and his daughters set out on visits around Thailand, sometimes posing for selfies and signing royal pictures.

The 35-year-old royal consort, Sineenat, joined some of the events.

After his coronation in 2019, the king conferred the title Royal Noble Consort on Sineenat, a former nurse and pilot, before stripping her of her titles for being “disloyal” in what an official statement at the time described as a rivalry with the queen.

Her titles were restored in September, and she was publicly declared “untainted”.

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