BANGKOK – Last December, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn led hundreds of fellow Thais on an 18-mile bicycle ride through central Bangkok as thousands more lined the streets to watch. The “Bike for Dad” celebrated the 88th birthday of the ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but it also was designed to showcase the prince, to help endear him to the people whose monarch he was destined to become.
Why? The government and royal palace apparently were keen to rehabilitate the prince’s image as an eccentric, remote man who prefers a life of hedonism—parties, expensive cars, girlfriends, shopping, and jet-setting—in his luxurious home in Germany to overseeing mundane affairs of state in Thailand.
That image makeover has become urgent now that King Bhumibol is dead and Vajiralongkorn, 64, is poised to succeed him. While the late monarch was beloved, cherished as the father of the nation and lionized as a selfless campaigner on behalf of his subjects, the prince is regarded with bafflement, indifference, even some hostility.
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Interesting. I don't think that I read about the death of the King. It would seem they were already trying to get Vajiralongkorn in a better place for PR purposes prior to the death of the king.
If I were Crown Prince of Thailand, that would be like super cool for a few months, but then I would totally ditch Thailand for Europe. Vajiralongkorn had the right idea before he became the next King.