The eccentric billionaire king of Thailand, one of the richest men in the world with an estimated fortune of $ 40 billion, has been accused of violating international law by ruling his country from a German luxury ski resort where he allegedly is the coronavirus pandemic is watching the company of a retinue of concubines.
Thailand insists that King Rama, also known as Maha Vajiralongkorn, visit the country privately. However, the German public broadcaster WDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung have released evidence that it uses Germany as a base for state affairs.
In the past 18 months he has sent nearly 100 letters to heads of state, most of them from his Bavarian retreat, according to a report in the London Times. He reportedly congratulated the Greek president on his appointment, appointed several new generals, and banned his sister from participating in Thai elections – all from the comfort of the luxury resort.
It is alleged that while he was there, he also issued an order to execute a criminal.
The Thai embassy in Berlin has not yet responded to the allegations.
The king’s prolonged stay in Germany while exercising state affairs could violate the principle of territorial sovereignty. According to reports, critics are calling on the government to declare him a persona non grata in Germany and hit him with an inheritance tax of 3 billion euros.
Thailand is likely to argue that other heads of government managed their country’s affairs while traveling abroad, but the king’s extended nature of stay will encourage critics who say that governing from Germany violates Germany’s rights as a sovereign nation.
Vajiralongkorn’s effective residence in Germany became known at the beginning of the pandemic when German hotels were ordered by the government to close. The Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl in the alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen successfully appealed the judgment, arguing that it should continue to be allowed to host the king.
The German Prime Minister Angela Merkel was asked by the Thai opposition to expel him, and the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned the King that he would have “immediate consequences” if he illegally conducts government business on German soil.
The German conscience was stung by reports of the increasing repression of a Thai protest movement against the excesses of the monarchy. Reports of the king’s sex life, eccentric practices like appointing a poodle a courtier, and photos of him in a German shopping mall with a tiny crop roof didn’t help.
The king has long been accused of waste and extravagance, and The Daily Beast reported earlier this year that he had allegedly built an extraordinary fleet of 38 jets and helicopters for his mission. According to the Financial Times, the cost of maintenance, fuel, ground support and other costs for the fleet for the coming fiscal year will be nearly $ 64 million.
Thai law prohibits criticism of the semi-divine royal family or household, including their pets. Violations are punished with up to 35 years in prison. However, reports of the king’s indulgent life in Germany are increasingly resorting to the country on social media.
Thailand tried earlier this year to get Facebook to remove a group critical of the monarchy that had more than a million members on the platform.
Thailand’s youth protest movement calls for an end to the harassment of political dissidents, the drafting of a new constitution and reforms of the monarchy.
The country’s economy, heavily reliant on tourism, has been hit by the pandemic, which exacerbated grievances against the king’s indulgent lifestyle.