Foreign Policy Digital

The King Is Dead, and Thailand’s Storybook Monarchy Might Be Next

As Thailand mourns its revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the public braces for an uncertain future.

BANGKOK — If it weren’t for the sea of black, it would have been easy to mistake the king’s cremation ceremonies for a family day out. Even in the pouring Bangkok rain, families were laughing and joking, officemates chatting as they waited in line, and schoolkids gossiping as they sheltered under building eaves. Volunteers in yellow kerchiefs — a splash of color amid the obligatory black of mourning — pushed wheelchairs for those too old to walk, manned nurses’ stations, and gave out water.

It had been just over a year since the 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej — or, as the language reserved only for the royal family has it, “returned to heaven.” During that time, his body had been lying in state in a closed coffin behind the , a great golden urn; in the past, his remains would have been in the urn itself, sloughing off flesh in preparation for

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Foreign Policy Digital

Foreign Policy Digital6 min readPolitics
How Hindu Nationalism Went Mainstream
On a hot day in May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a campaign rally in the central Indian city of Indore. Young men spread as far as the eye could see. Wearing bright orange T-shirts that said “NAMO AGAIN!” in comic-book letters, they scan
Foreign Policy Digital5 min readPolitics
How to Speak Out and Stay Hidden in Hong Kong
It was a surprise to discover I worked for the CIA. As a large white man in the Hong Kong protests, I certainly stood out from the crowd, where the overwhelming majority of the million-plus participants were locals of Chinese descent who took to the
Foreign Policy Digital6 min readPolitics
Europe’s Dream: Escaping The Dictatorship Of The Dollar
Trump’s hostile behavior is reinvigorating efforts to turn the euro into an alternative to the world’s dominant currency. If only the Europeans could find some way to do it.