22 October 2019 12:38
BANGKOK (AFP) - The very public downfall of the Thai King's 34-year-old consort - stripped of all royal titles and military ranks by a late-night command - left the country open-mouthed on Tuesday (Oct 22) at the latest abrupt act from its mercurial monarch. Former royal bodyguard and army nurse Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was dismissed from the rank of Chao Khun Phra, or noble consort, and accused of "disloyalty to the king". Here are five ways royal power has been displayed under Thailand's new king so far, from beefing up his security to taking direct control of a fortune. The palace said Ms Sineenat had not obeyed the King, had created conflict in the palace by going above her authority, and had acted "against the appointment of the Queen (Suthida)... Known as Koi, Ms Sineenat is a qualified pilot and was the first woman to receive the consort title in nearly a century.
After she obtained it, the palace released images of a 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. Ms Sineenat's rapid fall from favour is not the only time the Thai public has been given a glimpse into the King's dramatic personal life. King Vajiralongkorn divorced her and she lost her royal titles, and pictures later circulated of her with a shaven head. The palace has also stepped up royal security under King Vajiralongkorn, adding 1,600 police officers. Two new army units were later put under the monarch's direct control in October by royal decree, only a few months after the May coronation.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn had appointed 34-year-old Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi as his consort only three months ago, in what many described as a 'bizarre ceremony'. The palace said the decision was made because she was 'acting against the appointment of the Queen for her own ambitions'. Sineenat, who was a major-general and is a trained pilot, nurse and bodyguard, was the first royal noble consort in the country for nearly a century. Sineenat was appointed the consort, shortly after King Vajiralongkorn married his fourth wife, Queen Suthida. Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the royal consort, pose at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand (Picture: Reuters) Sineenat was accused of conducting a rivalry with Queen Suthida, the palace said late on Monday (Picture: Reuters) Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was the first royal consort in Thailand for nearly a century (Picture: Reuters) Thailand's king accused the consort of being 'ungrateful' (Picture: Reuters) BANGKOK: When Thailand's newly-crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn named one of his bodyguards as Noble Royal Consort on his birthday in July, no one had held the title for nearly a century, dating back to the days of absolute monarchy.
Later, the palace released a series of photos of 34-year-old consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, a former nurse, variously showing her in the cockpit of a fighter jet, wearing a crop top and dressed in combat fatigues with the king and the royal poodle. Such laudatory images previously had been reserved for the king's close relatives - and they resembled the military-style photos of the king's wife, Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana, on her birthday in June. King Vajiralongkorn, 67, stripped her of her titles in an order calling her "disloyal", "ungrateful" and "ambitious." Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the royal consort are pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters. Monday's palace statement hinted the downfall involved a rivalry with Queen Suthida, 41, whom the thrice-divorced king married on May 1 just days before he was formally crowned. "Royal Noble Consort Sineenat is ungrateful and behaves in ways unbecoming of her title. She is also not content with the title bestowed upon her, doing everything to rise to the level of the queen," the palace said in its statement. Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the royal consort pose at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.- Royal Household Bureau/Handout via Reuters The public disgrace of a royal consort is uncharted territory in Thailand, where reverence of the monarchy is deeply ingrained and strict lese majeste laws forbid criticising the royal family, with insults punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Both the queen and Sineenat had been granted military titles by King Vajiralongkorn in his personal bodyguard unit over several years. Their personal relationships with the king were only confirmed with palace announcements this year. General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the royal consort, is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters, August 27, 2019. What little is known about Sineenat come from the royal biography that has now been scrubbed from the palace website. She studied nursing at a military college, graduated in 2008 and worked in hospitals until she formally entered royal service for the then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn in 2012. She became a royal guard in 2015 with the rank of major in the Royal Thai Army. Since taking the throne, King Vajiralongkorn has proved to be an assertive constitutional monarch, taking more direct control of the crown's vast wealth and transferring two military units to his personal control. In this file undated handout from Thailand's Royal Office received on August 26, 2019, royal noble consort Sineenat Bilaskalayani, also known as Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, is seen. "Royal Consort Sineenat has been committed physically, mentally, intellectually, and with all her ability to fulfil the wishes of King Maha Vajiralongkorn to ease his responsibilities in improving the lives of the people," it said. (CNN) — The King of Thailand has stripped his royal consort of her titles, status, and military ranks for being "disloyal," only three months after she was anointed. Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, 34, had been bestowed the title of royal consort on July 28, the first woman to be given the rank in nearly a century. But an official notice, released Monday by the Thai Royal Household, announced that King Maha Vajiralongkorn had withdrawn all of her royal titles and military ranks for her "ambition" in wanting to be "equivalent with the queen." According to the notice, Sineenat had previously attempted to obstruct the King's wife, Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya from being crowned, and had asked to be appointed to the role instead. "After her repeated violations and attempted interference with royal affairs, His Majesty the King graciously granted her the title of Royal Noble Consort in July out of hope that Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi would lessen her pressure and change her behavior and acts," the notice said. Still, Sineenat "overstepped her authority," acting without the King's approval and against royal tradition, the notice said. Sineenat was a former army nurse who served in the King's royal bodyguard unit, and held the military ranking of major general. Shortly after she became consort, the Thai Royal Household released rare images of Sineenat and the King. Before becoming crowned King in May, Vajiralongkorn had announced his marriage to Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, who had formerly been his royal consort, and declared her queen. This story was first published on CNN.com, "Thai King strips 'disloyal' royal consort of titles and military ranks."