WALLINGFORD, Conn. - The princess of Thailand said Thursday that she does not believe protests in her home country are being staged to benefit the monarchy.
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn talked about the importance of public service Thursday at the Choate Rosemary Hall prep school in Wallingford. She later headed to the University of Pennsylvania for a U.S.-Thailand education discussion.
Her visit came amid the worst political violence in Thailand in more than a decade. Thousands of protesters have camped at the main government office complex to demand electoral changes and an end to corruption in Thai politics.
In violent clashes on Tuesday, 423 protesters and 20 police were injured, Thai medical authorities said. One woman was killed, and a man died in what appeared to be a related incident.
It was the worst political violence since 1992, when the army killed dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators seeking the ouster of a military-backed government.The princess was asked at a press conference following her talk whether she agreed with protesters who say they are acting on behalf of the monarchy.
"I don't think so," she replied. "They do things for themselves."
Asked why the king has not spoken out, she said, "I don't know because I haven't asked him."
Protest leaders have called for the prosecution of people who insult the monarchy. One leader wants to abandon Thailand's popularly elected Parliament for one in which a majority of members would be appointed.
Some academics have said the plan would enhance the power of the country's military and monarchy at the expense of the poor.
"There are a lot of political problems," the princess said. "I told my friends, colleagues just to do what is their duty."http://www.courant.com/news/local/statewire/hc-09192950.apds.m0355.bc-ct--thaioct09,0,6157926.story