Thai King’s Son Meets With Prominent Critic of Royal Insult Law

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

(Bloomberg) -- A son of Thailand King Maha Vajiralongkorn attended an exhibition about the nation’s royal insult law organized by an exiled critic of the monarchy, a month after the ex-prince visited the land of his ancestors.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, a former prince who left Thailand after the divorce of his parents in 1996 and lives in New York, was pictured at the event on Monday talking to Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a prominent academic who fled Thailand to avoid being charged with violating the royal defamation law.

Also known as Article 112 of Thailand’s penal code, the lese majeste law carries punishment of up to 15 years in prison for whoever “defames, insults or threatens” Thailand’s king, queen, heir-apparent or regent. Charges on that have been filed with some frequency in the past two decades, prompting political activists to flee and seek asylum abroad to avoid prosecution.

“I love and worship the monarchy, but I believe it’s better to ‘know’ than not,” Vacharaesorn, 42, wrote on Facebook after visiting Pavin’s exhibition at New York’s Columbia University, which highlighted the lives of some Thais who have been charged with the controversial law. “Everyone has their own opinion from their own experiences. Ignoring them doesn’t make their views and opinion disappear.”

Vacharaesorn spent years estranged from the royal family. His appearance at the exhibit of a prominent critic of the monarchy came a month after his first visit to Thailand in nearly three decades. The trip, in which he was joined by his younger brother, sent social media abuzz. The line of succession in the Thai monarchy remains unclear as King Vajiralongkorn hasn’t appointed an heir to the throne.

Pavin, an associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies, said he was honored by Vacharaesorn’s attendance.

“This was a civil discussion about a barbaric topic,” Pavin wrote in a Facebook post, accompanied by his pictures with the ex-royal. “Society can’t move forward without the old guards opening their hearts to listen to problems.”

Vacharaesorn is one of five children of the king with his second wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, a former actress. The king, then the crown prince, stripped Sujarinee and their sons of royal ranks after their divorce. Of their children, only Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya remains in the royal family and lives in Thailand.

The king has one other royal child — the 18-year-old Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. The king has no child with Queen Suthida, 45, whom he married in 2019.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.