In the hills above Mandalay, the old British summer capital of Myanmar, is a microcosm of the country's imperial past and its Orwellian present. It is also at the centre of the ruling generals' plans for their future rule. Maymyo's most interesting resident lives anonymously in a mock Tudor villa that appears to have been plucked straight from the countryside in southern England. He might be the king of this country if the British had not toppled his grandfather, King Thibaw, in 1885. According to Taw Paya, 84, the old monarchy can still stir emotions in Myanmar, although his family gave up any political aspirations long ago. 'It's slowly being forgotten by the educated people, but the country people still have lingering memories,' he said. 'Whenever one of us royal types goes out there, everyone crowds around as if you had come down from a satellite.' Taw Paya rarely travels, 'because of the restrictions this wretched government imposes on one's movements', but such constraints have always been a fact of his life. 'When the British were here, we weren't even allowed to cross the Irrawaddy River.' The British were afraid that King Thibaw's heir would visit the legendary 'victory ground' at the town of Shwebo and stir the populace with a myth of royal invincibility. These days, all travellers in Myanmar have their identity numbers recorded at every step of their journeys unless they belong to one of the ethnic groups that are not accorded full citizenship and therefore are not allowed to travel at all. The latest restriction on Myanmar's confined people is a 167-fold increase in the cost of a satellite television licence. The move appears designed to further isolate the population and leave more people dependent on what Taw Paya calls the 'eyewash' that passes for domestic news. Analysts said the regime was caught out by foreign coverage of last year's protests, sent back via satellite, radio and the internet. Internet connections were briefly cut, and although Myanmar is now back online, people say connections are slower and harder to establish. The British built the Burma Road, which runs through Maymyo, linking the country to China. The road, which was completed shortly before the second world war, was famously put to military use. But the original intention was commercial. 'The British wanted to get access to China and flood China with their goods,' Taw Paya said. Today the roles are reversed. 'The Chinese want access to the Indian Ocean.' And while Myanmar's timber and other raw materials trundle north across the border, Taw Paya observes with equanimity that 'all the cheap and useless Chinese goods are coming our way. It is the Chinese who are the rich chaps now'. The pointed arches of Maymyo's public buildings have their prototypes in distant English manor houses and country churches. But a new breed of modern mansion is appearing, surrounded by high walls and razor wire. The town is the home of the Defence Services Academy, where army officers are trained to rule the country. Outside its gaudy red and gold gates stand the statues of three long-dead warrior kings with the motto: 'The triumphant elite of the future.' Senior General Than Shwe, who leads the military junta, likes to see himself as a modern king. The name of the regime's new capital - Naypyidaw - means 'royal city'. 'They are going to make this town into an army school area,' Taw Paya said, adding a medical academy to the officer training and defence administration colleges already here. 'Then this will be a second 'royal city',' King Thibaw's last living grandson said. 'When that happens, I'll shift to some other place.'