Royal pains keep Thais glued to their seats in cinemas


Royal pains keep Thais glued to their seats in cinemas

To express their dissatisfaction, more and more citizens have the courage to stay seated during the royal anthem

Randy Thanthong-Knight

Anyone who has been to a cinema in Thailand knows the routine: before the film starts, everyone is asked to stand during a royal anthem to pay respect to the monarch. 

During the 70-year reign of former King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016, it was rare for anyone to sit during the song. And while many Thais still stand up, nowadays more and more people are opting to stay seated rather than pay respect to his son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose short time on the throne has seen unprecedented protests calling for reform of the monarchy. 

At a recent showing of the James Bond film No Time to Die at a central Bangkok cinema, nearly half of about 60 people sat down through the royal anthem without incident — a scene unthinkable just a few years ago, when moviegoers faced risks if they didn’t stand. In 2019, a woman said she was assaulted for not standing up, while last year another man was splashed with a drink for sitting through the 90-second song in the eastern province of Chanthaburi...

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