The claim on the monarchy is the most controversial because the royal institution is traditionally seen as the heart and soul of the nation and should be treated with the utmost respect. He is protected by a law that makes defamation of the monarch punishable by 15 years in prison.
The military, a major influence in Thai politics, has declared defending the monarchy to be one of its main duties, and many ordinary citizens also view it with devotion.
The protest movement, however, has prioritized the issue of reforming the monarchy because it believes the institution holds too much power and that change is the key to establishing true democracy. They therefore take up their unprecedented challenge, even at the risk of a violent backlash from the hardcore royalists.
A crowd of several thousand demonstrators at the Democracy Monument on Saturday showed their sentiment as a royal procession passed with King Maha Vajiralongkorn. They turned their backs, put their hands up to display their three-fingered protest gesture and sang the national anthem. A small contingent of royalists across the street shouted “Long live the king”.
King and Queen Suthida were to preside over the opening of a new transit station elsewhere in the capital. The royal couple in recent weeks have maintained a busy schedule of public events, supporting their supporters.
The protesters then wrapped a large white cloth around the Democracy Monument, on which they wrote messages to the government with their demands and wishes for the future. The effect of the coating was especially dramatic when the lights shone on the monument after dark.
The police initially tried to stop their action, triggering a small clash that left a policeman injured in the leg which drove him to hospital.
However, the overall atmosphere of the rally was festive, as various groups, including high school students and feminists, promoted their causes.