Could Prince Vacharaesorn Be Thailand’s New Heir Apparent?

Could Prince Vacharaesorn Be Thailand’s New Heir Apparent?

Prince Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, the second son of the current king of Thailand, has returned to the country after almost three decades of absence. Previously, he had been banished along with his siblings and faced financial difficulties in America, where he trained as a lawyer. But everything changed when his half-sister, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, fell into a coma, opening up the possibility for Vach to be the new heir apparent.

Vach, known for his progressive views and Western education, is being discussed as a potential successor to the throne, offering a shift from the regressive rule of King Vajiralongkorn. However, due to strict “lèse-majesté” rules, which prohibit any criticism or jokes about the monarch, the official and online media in Thailand is unable to openly discuss this speculation.

The monarchy in Thailand holds immense power and is effectively supported by the military-controlled courts. The regime’s sensitivity to criticism was recently demonstrated by the banning of a book that discussed the monarchy under King Vajiralongkorn. This extreme reaction suggests the monarchy’s weakness and paranoia.

King Vajiralongkorn himself is facing a political challenge following Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s hospitalization. An anti-establishment and anti-royal party won a significant electoral victory, fueled by the public’s desire to limit the royal family’s power and the king’s alleged excesses. However, the senate, filled with royal and military appointees, refuses to confirm the party’s leader as prime minister, potentially leading to an anti-democratic administration.

Despite concerns of sliding into authoritarianism, Prince Vach’s return brings hope for change. His views on democracy and the regime’s tactics have been shared on social media, indicating that he may be willing to challenge the established order. However, there is still the possibility that Vach’s influence may be limited by the military and traditional power structures in Thailand.

Overall, the return of Prince Vacharaesorn has sparked speculation about a potential shift in Thailand’s monarchy, but the future remains uncertain.