Last Thursday, a transgender protester wearing the traditional garb of a queen strutted down a red carpet in a street of central Bangkok. Another protester dressed like a court page - with sneakers - followed her, holding a red umbrella aloft in the style of a royal parasol. A crowd sat on the ground, prostrate, eyes cast down, as is required in the presence of royalty.
For centuries, the kings and queens of Thailand have walked under parasols that are colour-coded astrologically. Every planet is associated with both a colour and a day of the week, and Thai royals have parasols in the colour that represents the day on which they were born.