Thais mark anniversary of King’s death – as current ruler returns with harem from Germany


Thais have marked the fourth anniversary of the former king’s death with a ceremony attended by his son – who has returned with his harem from Germany to face protests against his reign.

The reverence for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was evident in the dozens of nurses who lay prostrate on the floor of Siriraj hospital in Bangkok as an image of the monarch was projected onto the wall.

Although most hailed the arrival of prodigal son King Maha Vajiralongkorn, police arrested 21 who yelled abuse at his gleaming white Rolls Royce as it rolled towards the Grand Palace on Tuesday night.

The king, dressed in white, and Queen Suditha, 42, wearing gold and opulent jewels, greeted devoted royalists outside as servants held umbrellas to shield them from the rain. 

The 68-year-old monarch returned from Germany over the weekend, where he has drawn ire for luxuriating with a retinue of concubines during the pandemic as furious pro-democracy demonstrators rail against him at home. 

Indeed, Angela Merkel’s foreign minister last week warned the sovereign it was not appropriate for him to conduct domestic politics from a Bavarian ski resort.  

Thai nurses and medical staffs pay homage to commemorate the fourth death anniversary of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday

The king, dressed in white, and Queen Suditha, 42, wearing gold and opulent jewels, greeted devoted royalists outside the Grand Palace as servants held umbrellas to shield them from the rain on Tuesday night

The king, dressed in white, and Queen Suditha, 42, wearing gold and opulent jewels, greeted devoted royalists outside the Grand Palace as servants held umbrellas to shield them from the rain on Tuesday night 

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday night

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday night

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

A devoted Thai woman gives a picture of Buddha to Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, as leave the Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

A devoted Thai woman gives a picture of Buddha to Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, as leave the Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday

The fanfare of his arrival belied the fury with which demonstrators clashed with police as his motorcade rolled past earlier. 

Twenty-one protesters were arrested after hurling paint over police guarding the road and shouting ‘release our friends,’ at the king’s passing car. 

Among those taken away were Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a protest leader, and Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, a singer.

‘The protesters may not have observed the law today so police had to act to bring order and didn’t act disproportionately,’ government spokesperson Anucha Burapachai told Reuters.

Such open dissent towards the monarchy has no recent precedent in Thailand, and came on the eve of the latest planned anti-government demonstrations.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (back R) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha (C) leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (back R) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha (C) leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

epa08740604 Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (C) is accompanied by Thai Queen Suthida (R) and Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana (L) as they appear to greet people after the royal ceremony to commemorate the fourth death anniversary of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, outside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand, 13 October 2020. King Bhumibol died at the age of 88 on 13 October 2016 after 70 years on the throne.  EPA/STR

epa08740604 Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (C) is accompanied by Thai Queen Suthida (R) and Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana (L) as they appear to greet people after the royal ceremony to commemorate the fourth death anniversary of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, outside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand, 13 October 2020. King Bhumibol died at the age of 88 on 13 October 2016 after 70 years on the throne. EPA/STR

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (C) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (C) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida leave from Grand Palace after ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) leaves the Grand Palace with Queen Suthida and Princess Bajrakitiyabha after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) leaves the Grand Palace with Queen Suthida and Princess Bajrakitiyabha after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

The protests, which have persisted for three months, present the biggest challenge in years to a political establishment dominated by the army and the palace.

Protesters are calling for a new constitution and the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader.

They have also called for curbs on the powers of the monarchy, breaking a longstanding taboo against criticising the royal family which many people still revere.

The Royal Palace has given no response to requests for comment on the protests or demands for royal reform.

In a sign of the monarch’s enduring popularity among many, the king and queen were greeted to thousands of smiles and rapturous applause.

Earlier in the day, hours before the royal motorcade was due to pass Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, protesters had pushed up against a police line and some threw blue paint.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Royalists gather outside the Grand Palace as they mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Royalists gather outside the Grand Palace as they mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

People wait for Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn's convoy outside the Grand Palace as they gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

People wait for Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s convoy outside the Grand Palace as they gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A Thai Royal Guard wears a face mask while he stands outside the Grand Palace as royalists gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A Thai Royal Guard wears a face mask while he stands outside the Grand Palace as royalists gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

People attend a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

People attend a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Royalist supporters wait to catch a glimpse of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha as they leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Royalist supporters wait to catch a glimpse of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha as they leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) gestures as he leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) gestures as he leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Police demolished a tent set up for the protest and dragged some demonstrators into police vehicles.

After the trouble, the royal motorcade passed by on the other side of the street. Protesters raised their hands in the three-fingered salute of anti-government campaigners and demanded the release of those detained.

‘This is the ugliness of feudalism, where one person can do anything and the majority of the people have to accept it unconditionally,’ Parit ‘Penguin’ Chirawat, a student leader, said on Twitter.

The top trending hashtag on the social media platform in Thailand, used more than 1.5 million times, insulted the king.

Insults to the monarchy are punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand’s lese majeste laws, but the prime minister said earlier this year that the king requested that they not be used for now.

A Thai Royal Guard stands outside the Grand Palace as royalists gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A Thai Royal Guard stands outside the Grand Palace as royalists gather to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th year anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Protesters have said they do not seek the abolition of the monarchy, but to reduce the king’s powers under the constitution and to reverse an order to put the palace fortune and some army units under his control.

‘The monarchy has to be under the constitution, that is how it supposed to be,’ said 21-year-old protester Waranya Siripanya.

In the evening, the demonstrators moved to the police station where the detainees were being held, pressing against the gates to demand their release.

Tuesday was a public holiday to mark four years since the death of the king’s widely respected father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (C) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn (R), Queen Suthida (C) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha leave the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha gestures as he leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha gestures as he leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (R) leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (R) leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (C) leaves the Grand Palace after a royal merit-making ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida depart in a car after greeting royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the 4th anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A candle is sheltered from the rain during a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A candle is sheltered from the rain during a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A portrait of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej is displayed during a ceremony marking his fourth death anniversary in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A portrait of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej is displayed during a ceremony marking his fourth death anniversary in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A woman wears a yellow poncho and holds an umbrella to shelter from the rain as she holds a candle during a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A woman wears a yellow poncho and holds an umbrella to shelter from the rain as she holds a candle during a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of his time in Germany, made a rare visit to Thailand for the occasion.

Thousands of royalists gathered to pay their respects, bearing the late king’s picture and flowers and wearing yellow shirts, the colour associated with him.

Many royalists were critical of the protesters.

‘They may have been taught and told that the monarchy doesn’t have any value to the nation,’ said Narongsak Poomsisa-ard, 67. ‘But I want to remind them that our nation exists until today, because we have the strong institution.’

Who is the playboy prince that became king? Thai monarch has spent most of his life overseas and been married three times before

King Maha was born on July 24, 1952 in Bangkok’s Royal Dusit Palace, the 64-year-old is the only son and male heir of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.

As an adolescent he studied at two public schools in Britain, including King’s Mead School, Seaford, Sussex, and then at Millfield School, Somerset. After, he embarked on a military career, training in Australia. 

In 1976, he graduated as a newly commissioned lieutenant with a liberal arts bachelors degree from the University of New South Wales. 

After graduating he started a career in the military training with US, British and Australian armed forces. He also qualified as a a fixed wing helicopter pilot in the late 1970s in the Royal Thai Army.

His military career was interrupted in 1978 so he could be ordained for a season as a Buddhist monk, as is customary for all Thai Buddhist men.

Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn with his second of four wives Princess Sujarinee who he married in 1994 after having five children with her during a 15 year affair

Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn with his second of four wives Princess Sujarinee who he married in 1994 after having five children with her during a 15 year affair

He married his first wife in 1977, a cousin, Princess Soamsavali Kitiyakara, with whom he has a daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha in 1978. They divorced in 1993.

Nine months after his daughter was born, the prince had a son with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth, with whom he went on to have a total of five children and a tumultuous relationship.

Three years later his relationship broke down with Ms Polpraserth as she fled to the UK in 1996, after a spectacular bust up.

In 2001 he wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee, describing her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone’ and like his previous relationships there were to be a number of controversies in their time together. 

In 2007, footage published online showed the couple throwing a party for his pet poodle – who held the rank of Air Chief Marshall – at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Princess Srirasmi, a former waitress, who sang happy birthday to the dog topless, also got on her knees and ate from a dog bowl in the same video.

In late 2014, Srirasmi suffered a very public fall from grace when several members of her family were arrested as part of a police corruption probe and charged with lese majeste (treason).

Vajiralongkorn later divorced her and she lost her royal titles . The crown prince has spent much of his time away from the public eye, but in recent years he has stepped in at some official ceremonies as his father’s health declined.

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida during their wedding ceremony in Bangkok in May last year. According to tradition, the King has a semi-divine status and must be seated higher than those around him

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida during their wedding ceremony in Bangkok in May last year. According to tradition, the King has a semi-divine status and must be seated higher than those around him 

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida appear on the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall of the Grand Palace as they grant a public audience on the final day of his royal coronation in Bangkok on May 6, 2019

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida appear on the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall of the Grand Palace as they grant a public audience on the final day of his royal coronation in Bangkok on May 6, 2019

In 2001, the crown prince wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee (pictured with their son Dipangkom Rasmijoti), describing her as a 'modest and patient' woman who 'never says bad things towards anyone'

In 2001, the crown prince wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee (pictured with their son Dipangkom Rasmijoti), describing her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone’

Despite holding a number of military titles, including Knight of the Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems, the prince admitted to an interviewer he was unable to tie his own shoe laces aged 12 because courtiers had always done it for him.

The crown prince has spent much of his time away from the public eye, living overseas in Germany, but in recent years he has stepped in at some official ceremonies as his father’s health declined.

In August 2015 he led key figures of the current junta and thousands of others in a mass bike ride through Bangkok, a rare high-profile appearance.

His third wife, a former waitress, was Srirasmi Suwadee with whom he had one child. The pair divorced in 2014 which led to eight of her relatives being arrested

His third wife, a former waitress, was Srirasmi Suwadee with whom he had one child. The pair divorced in 2014 which led to eight of her relatives being arrested

He was drafted in as King in October 2016, 50 days after the death of his father, the highly revered Bhumibol Adulyadej. He had to fly back from Germany after learning of his father’s deteriorating health in the days before.

Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the Crown Prince would ascend the throne with tthe statement: ‘The government will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King appointed his heir on Dec. 28, 1972.’

However, in a shock move he requested to delay his coronation and ascension to the throne for a year to mourn the passing of his father. 

Vajiralongkorn's first wife - Princess Soamsawali (right) - was the only other royal he ever married, being his first cousin on his mother's side

Vajiralongkorn’s first wife – Princess Soamsawali (right) – was the only other royal he ever married, being his first cousin on his mother’s side

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk