Palace and floods

16 11 2011

Our fellow bloggers over at New Mandala have a post up titled The princess and the FROC that we could swear began life as The Monarchy Strike Back. It is something of a storm in a teacup in the sense that the post is about a royal foundation (whose namesake is off in India) and the royalist university putting their moniker of donated goods that they are sending out to flood victims.

As we should all know, anyone – Army, every royal with an insignia, Navy, Red Bull, CP, to name just a few – can put their name all over public and private goods and send them out to flood victims. Only one source is taboo, and that seems to be the point of the post.

There are lots of royal foundations now mentioned as helping out. It is important to remember that much of the funding for these foundations is from public donations and from donated taxpayer funds. It is the royal foundation gets the credit for its aid.

The originally slow and seemingly mean response from the palace has been very quickly ramped up as the floods have moved into the politically sensitive Bangkok area. The royals are now quite active.

Over at 2Bangkok.com, there is a post titled Visiting Flood Victims that has Prince Vajiralongkorn and wife wandering “out to the front gate of their Taweewattana Palace to visit a flood-relief unit before going on to visit flood victims in Bangkok’s Taweewattana and Bang Khae districts and Nakhon Pathom province.” The palace seems a dry island in a sea of flooding. The prince has been seen delivering the usual royal relief bags in some places and his underlings have been doing the same in his name.

Princesses Chulabhorn and Sirindhorn have been shown doing similar royal bag allocations. Once princess Ubolratana is not seen but her insignia bags have also been doled out. The younger Sirivannavari Nariratana is in trackies and in Indonesia being (repeatedly) shown supporting Thai athletes at the SEA Games.

It may be coincidence, but some of the royal bag allocations seem to have been targeted at areas considered to be challenging for the government’s flood control approach or where criticisms of the government have been made.

One of the odder things about the royal response has been the appearance of the king yesterday, along with Sirindhorn. The Bangkok Post print edition has a photo of the chipper-looking king meeting at the riverside with his daughter to “talk about the floods.” On television in the regular royal news, while in a wheelchair, it has to be said that the king looked quite well.

Of course, this raises a question. Just a few days ago Princess Chulabhorn had the king collapsed unconscious and losing 800cc of blood in internal bleeding. Is it possible that he could be looking so well if he’d really been through such a seemingly dangerous health event? Or is she simply prone to exaggeration for nefarious reasons? And, given Chulabhorn’s several political interventions in recent months, we are reminded that we haven’t seen the queen much in recent days.


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