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Crown of respect

On DVD I have just finished watching seasons one and two of The Crown, the acclaimed docudrama which follows the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II up until the early 1960s. I understand that season three is in production and that it will continue this scrutiny of Her Majesty and the royal family.

The series so far is compelling, convincing and credible, taking a scalpel to the scandals and rumours of the British royal family over the past seven decades, opening the scars, lifting the scabs, and revealing all. Here is the controversy surrounding Edward VIII's abdication and his marriage to Wallace Simpson, and the subsequent publication of captured German documents that showed that he was a Nazi sympathiser. Next is the death of George VI and the ascension of Queen Elizabeth, who blames Edward for her father's early death. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, is not spared, and his own family background and its Nazi affiliations are revealed. Then come years of one scandal after another, including the queen's struggle with the dilemma of remaining relevant in an ever-changing world; and much, much more.

I am an Australian and hope one day to see my country become a republic. But that is not out of disrespect to the British monarch. In fact, watching The Crown has given me increased respect for this remarkable and resilient woman, who has weathered scandals, political turmoil, and family tragedies to emerge as a highly respected figure of constancy, stability, principal and morality. I believe she is now, after the passing of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch.

Which brings me to the point of this letter.

The late highly revered King Bhumibol was critical of Thailand's lese majeste laws.

In his birthday speech in 2005, he said: "Actually, I must also be criticised. If someone offers criticisms suggestions that the King is wrong, then I would like to be informed of their opinion. If I am not, that could be problematic ... If we hold that the King cannot be criticised or violated, then the King ends up in a difficult situation".

This brings me back to another episode in which the queen arranges a secret meeting with Lord Altringham, a virulent critic of her remoteness from her subjects and her inability to relate to them in a modern context. To her credit, the queen took up some of his suggestions, including broadcasting her Christmas message live on BBC television.

This past weekend Thais went to the polls as part of the long process of restoring democracy to this county, which has eluded it for so long. Until Thailand's lese majeste laws are repealed, or at least severely modified, Thailand will never be a democracy.

David Brown

Thais love farang

Re: "Expats not welcome", (PostBag, March 23).

Foreigners are welcomed by 80% of the Thai people with sincerely open arms. They are not wanted by the "elites" (their friendliness is highly superficial) or the conservatives. And both are running the policies in the country now.

Karl Reichstetter

136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Fax: +02 6164000 email:

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