German Show Apologizes for Mocking Thai Royal Wedding

A screencap of a SAT.1 Frühstücksfernsehen skit that offends many Thai royalists.

BANGKOK — A German TV show apologized on Tuesday night for lampooning the wedding ceremony of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida.

In a Facebook post, SAT.1 Frühstücksfernsehen offered an apology while maintaining it did not intend to insult Thai culture. The morning program segment, which aired last week, raised widespread anger on Thai social media. The German Ambassador also said he found it “offensive.”

“The morning show ‘SAT.1- Frühstücksfernsehen’ discussed the ceremony of the Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Friday,” the program’s statement said. “Many viewers feel that the way the show discussed the issue was inappropriate and offensive.”

“The editorial department never meant to insult Thai culture in any way. If that happened nevertheless, we hereby apologize formally.”

The segment in question showed two hosts, Jochen Schropp and Marlene Lufen, discussing the royal wedding and making gestures deemed to be offensive by some Thais. Due to legal concern, Khaosod English is withholding full details of the show.

The brief skit sparked much fury on Thai social media, where many royalists slammed the German news agency for being insensitive to Thailand’s culture and monarchy. Calls for SAT.1 to apologize soon grew.

“Every country has its own culture. Thailand has a culture that’s different to Germany, so they shouldn’t mock it,” user Valentine Lovelove wrote in a comment thread. “Especially when it comes to His Majesty the King who we wholeheartedly worship, love and revere. They have no right to violate it.”

“His Majesty the King is above all else. Who are you to deride my country’s customs?” Ratda Sukseaw vented.

“Ban Germans from entering this country,” Smoot Ratpoltee suggested.

Some users demanded Thai authorities take action against the German Embassy in Bangkok, though the German Ambassador posted on Twitter that he also disagreed with the show.

“Many of you have asked me for my opinion about this morning’s show on German private television. I found it offensive,” Georg Schmidt wrote in Thai and English. “So did many viewers in Thailand and Germany.”

Any negative portrayal of the monarchy is not only taboo in Thailand, but criminalized under a royal defamation law called lese majeste. Violators face up to 15 years in prison.

But not everyone was outraged at the video, with some netizens saying Thais should not overreact to the joke.

“A precious culture yet so sensitive to mockery?” the page Rubnong Thailand wrote. “To people losing their shit right now: don’t let me see you mock the North Korean leader later.”