"The struggle comes against a backdrop of deep anxiety over the future of the monarchy when King Bhumibol, the world's longest ruling head of state, passes away. The monarchy has previously acted as the force that pulled warring parties to the negotiating table."
Bangkok: They called it the closest place on earth to paradise.
In 1292 King Ramkhamhaeng the Great declared in an inscription "there is fish in the water and rice in the fields," a land of justice and of the observance of the Buddha's teachings.
Over centuries the royal kingdom that is now Thailand, which has never been colonised, overcame periods of war, natural disasters and political convulsion.
In 2005, only months after the Boxing Day tsunami killed almost 10,000 people in Thailand, the country's national elections were hailed as the most fair and corruption-free in its history, a model for south-east Asia's authoritarian nations.
Manufacturing was booming, millions of tourists were pouring in and Thailand was one of the world's top rice exporters.