Until now the monarchy, along with Buddhism, has been the country’s main unifying factor. But, first of all, King Bhumibol at 82 is only a year younger than our own Queen, and his family hasn’t quite the same record of longevity. No-one mentions this, but they’re not stupid. Secondly, the yellow shirts have been so noisy and hyperbolic in their expressions of loyalty to the monarchy (the King himself, with 60 years’ experience of ruling the Thais, has had the sense to keep quiet) that strains of open republicanism are beginning to appear on the red side. In a land where severe penalties are imposed for lèse-majesté, this could get serious. Lord Buddha has so far been unavailable for comment.

– Extracted from Tim Collard, “Thailand could be falling apart”, The Telegraph, 13 March 2010.