Germany warns Thai King not to govern from its soil

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(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 pro-democracy movement is set to make a massive stand in Bangkok on September 19, 2020 with an expected turnout of tens of thousands calling for PM Prayut Chan-O-Cha to step down and demanding reforms to the monarchy. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images) - JEWEL SAMAD/AFP
(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 pro-democracy movement is set to make a massive stand in Bangkok on September 19, 2020 with an expected turnout of tens of thousands calling for PM Prayut Chan-O-Cha to step down and demanding reforms to 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 not to try to rule his country remotely from Germany, it has emerged.

Thailand is in the grip of anti-government protests that have seen thousands take to the streets and growing calls for the powers of the monarchy to be curbed.

But King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends most of time in Bavaria, where he has rented an entire luxury hotel for his entourage.

“We have made it clear that Thai politics should not be conducted from German soil,” Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said this week.

“If there are guests in our country who choose to conduct their state business from our soil we would always want to prevent that.”

The foreign minister’s comments were a rare glimpse of what is said to be the German authorities’ growing frustration with their long-term royal guest.

The 68-year-old Vajiralongkorn, who is also known as Rama X, has long preferred to reside in Germany rather than his own kingdom.

BANGKOK, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Thai protesters attend a rally outside of the Thai Parliament on September 24, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thousands of anti-government protestors and student activists rally at Thailand's Parliament where MP's were meant to vote on six proposed amendments to the constitution. This rally marks the latest in a string of anti-government protests that began in late July where students and anti-government protesters call for the reform and the complete dissolution of the military backed government including the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images) - Allison Joyce/Getty Images AsiaPac
BANGKOK, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Thai protesters attend a rally outside of the Thai Parliament on September 24, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thousands of anti-government protestors and student activists rally at Thailand's Parliament where MP's were meant to vote on six proposed amendments to the constitution. This rally marks the latest in a string of anti-government protests that began in late July where students and anti-government protesters call for the reform and the complete dissolution of the military backed government including the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images) - Allison Joyce/Getty Images AsiaPac

But his absence has fuelled a growing anti-monarchy movement in Thailand, which has coincided with a series of lurid headlines in the German press.

During the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, it emerged Vajiralongkorn had been allowed to come and go from Germany as he pleased despite a travel ban, and flew in and out at the controls of his own 737.

In the summer, he reportedly pardoned a former concubine he had previously jailed in Thailand and had her flown by private plane to join him in Bavaria 

He owns a lakeside villa in Bavaria but chooses to live at the Hotel Sonnenbichl in the Alps with a retinue that is said to include several other concubines.

The truth about how Thais view their Royal Family has long been suppressed by ese-majeste laws under which saying anything negative about the king is punishable with 15 years in prison.

But a growing number of pro-democracy protestors are defying those laws. The hashtag #whydoweneedaking has been trending on Twitter and demonstrators have openly called for the monarchy to be reformed.

The German government's disquiet emerged in an answer to a question in parliament.

Frithjof Schmidt of the opposition Green party asked Mr Maas, “Why does the German government tolerate this highly unusual — and in my opinion illegal —  practice of a foreign head of state conducting politics on German soil?”