Thai king returns to Germany with 250-strong entourage and 30 poodles

·3-min read
File Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (L) with Thai Queen Suthida (R) during a religious ceremony for to commemorate the fifth death his father Bhumibol Adulyadej  (EPA)
File Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (L) with Thai Queen Suthida (R) during a religious ceremony for to commemorate the fifth death his father Bhumibol Adulyadej (EPA)

Thailand’s king Maha Vajiralongkorn returned to Germany for the first time in over a year with his entourage of more than 250 people and a beloved pack of 30 poodles.

The 69-year-old monarch and his entourage were pictured at an airport hotel outside Munich after their flight in a luxurious private jet, German tabloid The Bild reported on Wednesday.

Wearing a brown and orange tracksuit, the king was pictured on the way to the pool of the Hilton Airport hotel in Munich.

The king, who is known for his love of dogs and famously promoted his pet poodle Fu-Fu to the rank of Air Chief Marshall, reached Munich on Monday and booked the entire fourth floor for 11 days.

This was the king’s first official trip abroad since pro-democracy protests and unprecedented public criticism of the royals over laws that punish defaming the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison. More than 156 people have charged with the royal laws related to insulting monarchs, said the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

His first trip to Germany in more than a year came after the sovereign faced criticism for absence as coronavirus cases spiked in April and May. He was residing in a hotel in Germany’s Bavarian Alps that was closed to the public with his entourage of staff and dogs.

“He’s back and is feeling at home with his poodles in his favourite kingdom of Bavaria,” Bild wrote.

He returned to Thailand in October last year to mark the fourth anniversary of his father’s death amid pro-democracy protests. But the return was widely believed that it was in response to the criticism.

The reason for the king’s frequent trips and his relationship with Germany are not known.

He was titled Crown Prince of Thailand by his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej in a ceremony in 1973. In his early years, he was educated in a school in Bangkok and at the age of 13 he was sent to the UK for schooling. He completed his university education in Australia’s Royal Military College, Duntroon, for his arts degree as a corporal.

After his advanced training in Thailand, the UK, US and Australia, he took the role of a officer in Thai armed forces and also became a fighter pilot.

The king spends most time in his lakeside villa in the town of Tutzing — which is known as a playground for the rich.

His trip also coincided with the verdict by Thailand’s constitutional court on Wednesday that protesters’ demands to call for reform of the monarchy were an “abuse of the rights and freedoms and harmed the state’s security.”

Protests swept Thailand last over its harshest “lèse-majesté” laws, which makes it a punishable offence for anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.” People can face between three and 15 years in prison.

The ruling was described as “a judicial coup” by human rights activists who said it can pave the way for more legal cases against the protesters.

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