Thai royalist turns protester as movement broadens

Twenty-nine-year old"Nat" has spent his life as a playboy in Thailand. He's the son of a real-estate billionaire, typically parading around in supercars.

And he's been an ultra-royalist for Thailand's monarchy most of his life.

But he's recently had a change of heart.

Nat - short for Tanat Thankitamnuay - was a well-known face at protests that led to Prayuth Chan-ocha seizing power in 2014.

Now, he's flipped to join pro-democracy rallies in Thailand in part because of outrage over the government's handling of the latest coronavirus outbreak.

Nat takes to the stage demanding Prayuth step down and reforms to Thailand's monarchy, all in a fashionable suit.

"It is clear, brothers and sisters, that the government, military and those in power as well as the pro-establishments have been using Article 112 to suppress those who have opposing views."

Article 112 is the royal defamation law.

Thailand's economy has taken a hit under the coronavirus and the death toll has reached nearly 12,000.

The deputy secretary to the prime minister has defended the government's handling of the virus and told Reuters that they have taken all necessary measures to contain the spread of infections.

That has sparked new life into protests against Prayuth that began last year.

Nat was blinded permanently in his right eye last month after being hit by a teargas canister at a protest. But he says the injury has only made him stronger:

"Well I guess we have to just do whatever we can, whatever it takes and whatever it needs to be done and if it will cost me another eye then so be it."

His presence at the protests marks a more diverse group joining the movement, which has largely been led by students.

Nat said he has cut himself off from his family, and although some student activists were suspicious of his actions,

now they raise the protesters' three-finger salute together.

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