In a very rare ambush interview, King Rama X responds to a question from a foreign reporter about pro-democracy protesters by saying “We love them all the same”, and “Thailand is the land of compromise.” Meanwhile the protesters are not backing down on monarchy reform.
Left to right: Queen Sutthida and King Vajiralongkorn met Jonathan Miller in an ambush interview. (Source: Facebook/PhitsanulokPRD)
The incident took place on 1 November after the King finished the seasonal change of robes on the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo. As the King and Queen Suthida were greeting the people waiting outside the temple, Jonathan Miller, foreign correspondent of Channel 4 of the UK, ambushed him with a question about his response to the current pro-democracy protests, which are calling for monarchy reform.
The King responded saying “We love them all the same” three times. To a second question about the possibility of compromise, the King replied “Thailand is the land of compromise.”
The impromptu interview came after a 25-second head-to-head conversation between the King and Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as Buddha Issara, a leading figure in the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), who in 2018 was stripped of his status as a monk after he admitted forging the monographs of the late King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit on Buddha amulets which he sold to his disciples. He also faced charges of extortion and illegally detaining police officers.
After the interview with Miller, the King and Queen crossed to the other side of the path, where the King had a quick conversation with Princess Sirivannavari, who immediately retraced her steps and said to Miller “We love Thai people, no matter what. And this country is peaceful. I love it. I'm very happy.” Then, more forcefully, she said “This is the real love, and you can see, right?”
Many celebrities also attended public meetings with the King. Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of the royalist group Thai Pakdee (loyal Thais) also engaged a personal exchange with the King who told him “We must help each other to bring out the truth”.
Also attending the public gathering were Bin Banluerit, an actor and volunteer for the Ruamkatanyu Foundation rescue organization, Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, MP from the micro Thai Civilized Party, and Apirak Chat-anon, aka Sia Po, a self-professed gambler who is out on bail after being arrested on 28 October for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and other charges after a shooting in front of a massage shop in Bangkok.
The pro-democracy protests have repeated demands for the PM to resign, for amendments to the constitution and for monarchy reform. They also call for the state to stop harassing, prosecuting and arresting protesters.
Although Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha proposed that both sides ‘take a step back’, the offer is seen as a fraud when police keep on charging protesters and re-arresting them when they are released from temporary detention.