Thailand has witnessed about 2,992 Covid-19 cases with 55 deaths. The country is under a state of emergency and as people cope with the coronavirus pandemic, they look up to their leader for solidarity and showing the way forward.
But Thailand's king Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, has been absent from his kingdom. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the sexagenarian king has lodged himself at Germany's Hotel Sonnenbichl. His entourage of 100 reportedly includes servants and his harem of at least 20 women.
Protests against King Maha Vajiralongkorn
Enraged over the monarch's perceived hedonism in these grim times, protests have been staged against him. German and Thai protesters used an unconventional method to show their displeasure. Through a light show of sorts, the PixelHELPER Foundation called out Germany to throw the king out. The group projected messages at the front of the German hotel.
"The THAI KING robs his people. Germany must throw him out," read one sign. "Why does Thailand need a king who lives in Germany", read another. "The capital of Thailand is no longer Bangkok. It's Munich";"King and Military into Prison! Democracy Now!"; "Stop torturing Thai people. CRIMINAL KING!", were some of the other messages projected at the hotel, where the king is staying.
Messages were not just written in English, but also in German and Thai so that more people could understand them. The group PixelHELPER posted the pictures on its Twitter page.
In a statement, the group called the king "a cruel and violent monarch who reigns through fear and intimidation with the help of his allies in the military". It claimed that several of his servants and women in his harem are "prisoners in Germany", who "don't want to serve Vajiralongkorn but have no choice". It also claimed that servants who displease him are routinely beaten and whipped. The torture is filmed "because Vajiralongkorn enjoys watching video of people suffering".
As soon as the German newspaper Bild reported about the protest, the website was blocked in Thailand, journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall tweeted.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Germany
While the rest of Germany's hotels remain closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Thai king rented Hotel Sonnenbichl in the Bavarian Alps for himself and his harem of 20 women. According to German authorities, the king and his entourage have special permission because they are a "single, homogeneous group of people with no fluctuation", DW reported.
The king, known for his over the top lifestyle, has four wives and has fathered seven children from three women. The 67-year old king who was coronated in May 2019, reportedly gave his poodle a four-day Buddhist funeral.
It is illegal in Thailand to criticize the king, and it can lead to imprisonment for up to 15 years, thus shielding the monarch from public ire.