ICOA Update on The Prince to Members

This past week I feel as though I have played a small role in history.  

For 5 years I have been a massive supporter of Prince Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse – when he had few supporters.  
I always believed him to be a leader with the right progressive thoughts
to lead a nation.  
He and I had many discussions and I got to know him at a deep level
as a friend & human being.  
He is benevolent and wants to make a positive difference in the world. 
Over the years we privately spoke about his plan to return to Thailand
and the best way to do it.  

Many years ago, when his father (the king) divorced his mother, the four sons were banished from Thailand and told never to return.    
27 years have passed.  Prince Vach and his brothers have all graduated from college with professional degrees and Prince Vach went on to become a lawyer with numerous accolades. 
In discussions about his trip, we planned for a quiet return to Thailand.  He and I even planned normal tourist activities to see the country.   Well, things took a quick turn and I believe for the best.  Upon his arrival one of the receivers called, “Prince, Prince over here”.   An unknown person at the airport filmed this person calling out as well as the Prince’s arrival at the airport and posted it on social media.  Within just a few hours of the arrival, the video went viral with over 6 million views. 
The social media sites lit up with speculation of why he returned and how he was able to get in the country.  Although there was no formal invitation,
the Palace left the door open to him to return.  
The Monarch in Thailand has strict Lese Majeste Laws where any negative comment about the King can land you 15 years in prison.  
Many Thais want reform – and this is one of many reasons the Monarch has struggled with approval.  
However, the Prince’s return has been a high point for a monarchy that has struggled to get strong public support and with his arrival there is 90 percent approval on all forms of social media including some from well know anti-monarchists.  He has the respect of the people because in many ways they see him as hardworking and someone who did it on his own.
On Day 2 of his visit the Palace took control of his agenda and I had to take a step back from such heavy  involvement.  The Palace really had no choice as he is the biggest story in Thailand and already wildly popular and his daily itinerary has been filled with visiting orphanages, visiting temples and interacting with Thai people. In many ways, I am sure the Palace is happy to have such a positive surge in press and many media outlets stated his arrival was carefully planned by the Palace but that simply is not true.
Things have gone very well and I agree with the sentiment that the Thais finally have a popular prospect to become the Crown Prince and I am honoured to call him a friend and I am so happy he participated in two of our previous EconoSummits.  
At our events he spoke to us to promote Thailand and the Thai people and never asked for anything in return.  
He has always been generous and giving with his time. 

Google his name and the countless News Stories.  What we thought might be a private, low-key trip has quickly turned into
a major international story in the Associated Press.  
The Thai people will be fortunate if he becomes their next leader.

In picture (above):
Mr Mark Skousen (World renowned Economist)
Mike Lathigee (ICOA President)
The Prince
(In the background – security detail for The Prince)