Ryan Wolfson-Ford
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Loyalism and anti-communism in the making of the modern monarchy in post-colonial Laos
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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This chapter examines how the monarchy was transformed in the first post-colonial state of Laos (1945–75). Using fresh primary sources, it argues that the monarchy was made and unmade by partisan struggles which emerged in the era of decolonisation and the global Cold War. In the late 1940s, the monarchy in Luang Prabang became the sole royal house in Laos with the support of the loyalist movement, a group which explicitly supported the return of the old colonial power, France, after the Second World War. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, the monarchy was marked by its overt and covert support of anti-communism and right-wing nationalism. The last monarch actively promoted youth groups with parallels to fascist Vichy France. Yet, by 1975, the monarchy was swept away in the revolutionary tide of its sworn enemy, the communist-inspired Pathet Lao. In a larger sense, this chapter considers the role of kings in post-colonial democracies and the inherent political and social tensions they confront.

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