Germany warns Thai King not to govern from its soil
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 4, 2019, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn arrives at the Grand Palace for his coronation in Bangkok. - A youth-led, democracy-friendly movement will take a massive stand in Bangkok on September 19, 2020. An expected turnout of tens of thousands calls on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha to step down and demand reforms of the monarchy. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD / AFP via Getty Images) - JEWEL SAMAD / AFP
Angela Merkel's government has warned the King of Thailand against ruling his country from Germany.
Thailand is in the grip of anti-government protests, in which thousands took to the streets, increasingly demanding that the powers of the monarchy be contained.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends most of his time in Bavaria, where he has rented an entire luxury hotel for his entourage.
"We have made it clear that Thai politics must not be pursued on German soil," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas this week.
"If there are guests in our country who decide to conduct their state business from our soil, we always want to prevent this."
The Foreign Minister's comments were a rare glimpse into the German authorities' allegedly growing frustration with their longtime royal guest.
68-year-old Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, has long preferred to live in Germany rather than in his own kingdom.
BANGKOK, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Thai protesters take part in a rally outside the Thai Parliament on September 24, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thousands of anti-government protesters and student activists gather in the Thai parliament, where MPs are supposed to vote on six proposed amendments to the constitution. The rally is the latest in a series of anti-government protests that began in late July and saw students and anti-government protesters calling for the reform and complete dissolution of the military-backed government, including the ousting of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Photo by Allison Joyce / Getty Images) - Allison Joyce / Getty Images AsiaPac
But his absence has fueled a growing anti-monarchy movement in Thailand, which coincided with a string of garish headlines in the German press.
During the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, it emerged that despite a travel ban, Vajiralongkorn was allowed to come and go from Germany as he pleased and to fly in and out of the controls on his own 737.
In the summer, he reportedly pardoned a former concubine he had previously imprisoned in Thailand and had her flown to Bavaria on a private plane
He owns a villa by the lake in Bavaria, but lives in the Hotel Sonnenbichl in the Alps with an entourage that is said to include several other concubines.
The truth about how Thais see their royal family has long been suppressed by ese-majeste laws, which allow 15 years in prison for saying something negative about the king.
But a growing number of pro-democracy protesters oppose these laws. The hashtag #whydoweneedaking is trending on Twitter and protesters have openly called for monarchy reform.
The unrest of the federal government was shown in an answer to a question in parliament.
Frithjof Schmidt from the opposition Greens asked Mr. Maas: "Why does the Federal Government tolerate this highly unusual - and in my opinion illegal - practice of a foreign head of state who conducts politics on German soil?"
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