Thai king strips ‘disloyal’ royal consort of all titles

BANGKOK – Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has stripped his 34-year-old consort of all titles for “disloyalty” and apparent “ambition” to match the Queen’s position, a royal command issued said, less than three months after she was bestowed with the honour.

Former royal bodyguard Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi (pic) – known by her nickname “Koi” – was gifted the title on the king’s 67th birthday on July 28, the first time in nearly a century a Thai monarch has taken a consort.

A few days later the palace released images of the short-haired Sineenat in combat fatigues shooting weapons, flying a jet and preparing to parachute from a plane, as well as holding the king’s hand.

It was an intimate and rare glimpse into the private life of Thailand’s powerful, ultra-wealthy and inscrutable monarch, known as Rama X of the Chakri dynasty.

But yesterday Sineenat’s swift and public downfall was relayed on national television.

She was dismissed from the rank of Chao Khun Phra – or noble consort – for “disloyalty to the king” according to the command, as well as “acting against the appointment of the Queen (Suthida)… for her own ambitions”.

Suthida – the former deputy head of the royal bodyguard – was made Queen in May, becoming King Vajiralongkorn’s fourth wife.

The Thai monarchy is protected by a harsh defamation law, making open discussion on the institution for the public and media based inside the country all but impossible.

Rama X dramatically bolstered his authority since his 2016 rise to the throne, pulling the immense wealth of the crown under his direct control and restructuring key army units to his command.

Koi, a qualified pilot and former army nurse, was the first woman to receive the consort title in nearly a century – fitting a pattern of assertive moves by the king.

Her actions show “she does not give any honour to the king and does not understand royal tradition. Her actions are to benefit herself”, the statement said, adding she was attempting to elevate her position to the same as Queen Suthida. — AFP

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