Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has instructed the police to modify security protocols in order to prevent massive traffic jams that are caused due to the transit of members of the royal family in motorcades in the capital. The announcement was made by the Thai government on Monday.
The standard protocol of cordoning of complete streets through which the royal are traveling has been changed by the security forces based on the royal decree by the king. Only ceratin lanes will be partially reserved for the motorcades to pass, Narumon Pinyosinwat, spokesperson for the Thai government, was quoted saying in a statement by Efe news.
Affecting the general public
"His Majesty the King was concerned that the motorcades might affect Thai people's commute. Therefore, his majesty has assigned the Royal Thai Police to set guidelines for citizens to transit regularly and to have the least impact," the statement said.
"The process of adjusting the protection pattern during the royal motorcades of the King and his royal family by the Royal Thai Police is intended to provide security to His Majesty the King and the royal family at the highest standard to be dignified and in accordance with the wishes of His Majesty the King."
The new plans include opening lanes for the public to use at the same time as the royal motorcades, as well as allowing the use of U-turns and bridges. These measures were introduced following an unusual wave of criticism on social media focused on the traffic chaos and disruptions generated by the royal family's land travels through Bangkok, one of the world's most congested cities.
The hashtag #RoyalMotorcade (in Thai) was a trending topic in October 2019, when many users complained about being stuck for hours waiting for the sovereign or his relatives to move through the capital's downtown area.
Outrage over royal protocols
In December, a bridge leading out of the metropolis was shut down to allow the monarch to pick up his new yacht. The outrage intensified at the end of the year, when many parts in southern Thailand, including the popular Phi Phi national park, were shut to the public because Princess Sirivannavari, the King's youngest daughter, was vacationing there.
In Thailand, any public criticism of the monarchy is extremely rare, since it has one of the harshest lese-majeste laws in the world that imposes penalties of up to 15 years in prison for offenders.
(With agency inputs)