The monarchy is central to Thailand society with the Lese-Majeste laws amongst the toughest and most enforced in the world. These laws protect Thailand's Royal Family from threat or insult by others. Specifically Article 112 of Thailand's criminal code states, 'anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, queen or heir-apparent or regent will be punished with up to fifteen years in prison.
The code was originally created in 1908, then further toughened in 1976. A recent update in the nation's constitution further enforces the law by stating 'The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. 'No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action'. Complaints can be filed by almost anyone, which are then formally investigated by the police.
Visitors to Thailand should always respect the culture and traditions of the land, as they can become easily caught up in a legal stoush if they fail to understand the consequences of a breach to the Lese-Majeste laws in Thailand.
Since 2014 the law has been further tightened with restrictions on media, phone and Internet use. A number of news sites including the Daily Mail have been blocked in Thailand. Authorities continue to monitor sites including Facebook for those who post or share material considered to be insulting to the monarchy. A special unit, the Technology Crime-Suppression Police Division is tasked with identifying inappropriate content and computer crimes associated with materials deemed insulting to the monarchy.
The monarchy is powerful and much loved in the society. In 2016, the much loved King Bhumibol Adulaydej sadly passed away in 2016 aged 88, with the country plunged into mourning for the loss of their much loved monarch.
Its not hard to see why King Bhumibol Adulaydej was a much loved and revered King. Since the day of his coronation in 1946, he has contributed much toward Thai society. One of his many talents included the invention of a water wheel to eliminate polluted water, providing a source of clean water for farmers and villagers.
He also implemented rain harvesting to eliminate drought in areas during the summer. An environmental advocate, he encouraged his subjects to protect the forest, conserve water and fertile land. He encouraged hill tribe people to plant fruit, vegetables and rice instead of opium. The King led the development of programs in the poorest areas of the country, funding much of the projects from his own private funds.
Once a project was up and running, it would be handed to the government for further development and expansion. A talented musician, artist and sportsman, the King continues to be much loved and respected by his subjects.
Prince Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Bhumibol Adulyadej was born December 5 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Prince Mahidol of Songkla, half-brother and heir of the last absolute monarch of Thailand, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) and the younger son of King Chulachomklao (Rama V, reigned 1868-1910).
The Chakri dynasty in which he was born dates back to 1782. Prince Bhumibol’s great-grandfather King Mongkut (King Chomklao, reigned 1851-1868).
Prince Bhumibol’s father, Prince Mahidol, had married a Siamese commoner and studied to be a doctor. At the time of the birth of Prince Bhumibol he was studying public health and medicine at Harvard and his wife was studying nursing and economics at Simmons College close by.
Prince Bhumibol was the youngest of three children, having an elder brother and sister. At the time of his birth, he was several steps removed to the Thai throne and his elder brother, Prince Ananda, had precedence.
Prince Mahidol died in 1928 when his son was one year old. The family returned to Thailand where as a young boy, Prince Bhumibol briefly attended Mater Dei Primary School. But in 1933 following a military coup King Prajadhipok ordered the family to move to Lausanne, Switzerland.
There the Prince attended the Ecole Miremont and the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande, Chailly sur Lausanne. Later he enrolled at the Gymnase de Lausanne.
His majesty is survived by Queen Sirikit and their four children. His son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne in December 2016.