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Lèse–majesté in Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand – one of the most famous tourist destinations in East Asia, it’s a lavish, extravagant tribute to Thailand’s revered royal family.

In this field recording by Mark Wilden, everything is pretty normal – the sounds of birdsong intermingle with the crowds taking in this pure visual spectacle.

Yet beneath the surface, underneath the incredible gold, glitz and grandeur of the Grand Palace is a constant reminder of the incredible importance of the king to Thailand, and of the country’s strict lèse–majesté laws, which prohibit anything which may defame or insult the Thai royal family, and a reminder of the country’s ongoing struggles with democracy.

The reimagined piece by Cities and Memory brings to mind the undercurrents of lèse–majesté that are a part of daily life in the country, intermingling news reports and interviews with Thai citizens about what it means for them.

City version:

Memory version: