chapter  9
16 Pages

The monarchy and succession 1

WithKevin Hewison

This chapter examines the political and economic rise of Thailand’s monarchy, with attention to the long reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (r. 1946–2016) and of King Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne in 2016. It examines these reigns, following a brief history of the political struggles between the People’s Party and royalists that began with the 1932 revolution that brought an end to the absolute monarchy. Bhumibol’s reign rebuilt the political influence and wealth of the monarchy and was marked by an alliance between the monarchy and the military through long periods of dictatorship. This alliance between monarchy and military advanced a royalist political regime – known as Thai-style democracy – that has been promoted to limit electoral democracy to the present day. The monarchy’s political restoration has been matched by its growth as the country’s largest economic entity, represented by the Crown Property Bureau. The chapter concludes with an examination of Vajiralongkorn’s preparations for succession and his first few years on the throne.