In Thai society, the formation of a middle class took place only about one hundred years ago. For many of those years, this middle class lacked a strong identity, rarely participating in the important moments of national history. To create a confident identity, Thai society’s middle class needed something they could trust, an object they could put their faith in that would also represent their loyalty to their country. To fulfil this emptiness, the middle class turned to the monarchy. Compared with other Thai institutions, the monarchy has a long and glorified history. The monarchy is seen as unlike political ideology, the capital, or even the national state, because these groups always made profit for themselves, never sacrificing for their country as the monarchy was seen to do.
However, to show loyalty to the monarchy in modern society could be complicated; the middle class needed something simple and tangible to symbolize this faithfulness. This need resulted in the veneration of images of the king. For many years, these images were of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October 2016 after seven decades on the throne. During King Adulyadej’s reign, the Thai people presented his image as a way to symbolize their loyalty and national identity, which lead to the king being viewed like a virtual god. Usually, these images presenting the young, good- looking king or the working king do not create meanings beyond the information directly conveyed in the photograph; to build other meanings on them, the images need something special.