Charles has reportedly tried to take more of a lead role in the past year as the Royal Family has struggled to uphold its reputation due to Prince Andrew’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and Megxit. Some critics have even suggested that both events have shaken the stable foundations of the monarchy in Britain, although YouGov polls have revealed that the Queen still enjoys 74 percent public support. Yet, there have been some concerns that when Charles ascends the throne, republican sentiment may rise, especially in nations such as Australia.
Still, Britain is a long way off the troubles Thailand’s constitutional monarchy has been facing recently.
This week, tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered in Bangkok, calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and a restriction on the King’s powers.
Thailand has a lese majeste law which means any citizen who criticises King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent could be jailed for up to 15 years.
However, pro-democracy activists want the monarchy to be accountable to elected institutions, to reduce the royal budget and to stop the royals from interfering in politics.
Yet, years before resistance to the Thai monarchy became mainstream, the Prince of Wales is thought to have looked to the Asian nation for inspiration when his own family were facing challenges.
Back in 2002, The Guardian reported: “Perhaps looking for hints to resolve his own family’s tribulations, the Prince of Wales has asked to see a Thai film blockbuster rich in royal intrigue, adultery and a queen’s sacrifice to save her husband’s life.
“Local media say Prince Charles made the unusual request to watch Suriyothai through the Australian director Baz Luhrmann, who stands to win an Oscar for Moulin Rouge this month.”
2001 film ‘The Legend of Suriyothai’ tells the story of a minor Thai royal who was forced to marry another royal to keep the peace — but she actually loves another man.
This mirrors Charles’ fate, as he loved Camilla Parker Bowles but she had married another man before he was ready to propose.
As a result, he wed Lady Diana Spencer who, although aristocratic, struggled with royal life and was jealous of Charles’ ongoing love for Camilla.
2002, when Charles requested the film, was also the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the year in which she lost both the Queen Mother and her sister Princess Margaret.
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In her Christmas broadcast that year, the Queen hinted at her state of mind when she said: “Many of you will know only too well from your experience, the grief that follows the death of a much loved mother or sister.
“Mine were very much part of my life and always gave me their support and encouragement.”
The Thai film also details what happens when royal relatives die and the difficulties that follow.
The Australian director Baz Luhrmann made the unusual request on Charles’ behalf, according to The Guardian.
He wrote an email that “could have been straight out of the royal household’s formal request book”, the newspaper claimed.
In the surprising pitch to the film’s director, Chatrichalerm Yukol, he said: “His Royal Highness expressed an interest in viewing your film.”