Bangkok Blues – Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn – Too much BANG KOK lol
Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension
TUTZING, Germany — For more than two years, the king ofThailand lay ill in a Bangkok hospital. During much of that time, his son, the heir to Thailand’s throne, was far from the kingdom, flying around Europe in his Boeing 737 and ensconced in luxury villas and hotels amid the misty lakes and mountains of southern Germany and Austria.
The lavish European lifestyle of the son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, and his tastes for airplanes, fast cars, women and the high life have caused great anxiety in the kingdom for decades. Now he is on the cusp of ascending the throne.
The death of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday has set in motion a succession that many Thais say they wish they could avoid. King Bhumibol had been a unifying figure in a country that is torn by deep divisions of class and politics and is currently ruled by a military junta. The issue is whether the prince, seen by many Thais as lacking the deep public devotion that his father enjoyed, can hold the country together.
The prince’s ascension also raises questions about the future of the monarchy, as a less-beloved king could give strength to a republican movement that has gained a foothold in recent years. Among the issues at stake is control over one of the world’s great royal fortunes, an estimated $31 billion in real estate holdings alone. Succession may force the consideration of an unresolved and rarely discussed question of whether those assets and others are the property of the royal family or of the Thai public.
Having multiple lovers is a dynastic tradition — his great-grandfather King Rama V had more than 150 wives and consorts — but the prince’s former partners have endured spiteful separations and the purged members of his entourage have died under suspicious circumstances. His three divorces, and the brusque ways they were handled, turned many Thais against him and left a trail of broken families, including four children in the United States with whom he has cut ties.
The crown prince returned to Thailand in time to be present for his father’s death on Thursday. But the timing of his accession remains in question. Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister, surprised the nation on Thursday when he told reporters that the prince had decided to wait until the “appropriate time” to ascend the throne, which is still replete with the ancient pageantry and extreme formality made famous by the musical “The King and I.”
What details are known of the crown prince’s life are whispered and passed along furtively on social media in Thailand, where the military government, enforcing a strict lèse-majesté law, has sentenced dozens of people to long prison terms for offending the monarchy. The law has been interpreted broadly, stifling most public discussion of anything related to the royal family.
But the few details that have emerged in public records, leaked documents and videos, and in publications from abroad offer a glimpse into the man who stands to be Thailand’s next king.
The prince was still married to his first wife, his cousin Soamsawali Kitiyakara, in the 1970s and ’80s when he fathered five children with another woman, according to Thai news accounts at the time. The other woman, an aspiring actress and a commoner, Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, would become his second wife.
That second marriage ended in the late 1990s in such acrimony that a public notice was posted at the prince’s palace accusing Ms. Sujarinee of corruption and infidelity with a soldier. The prince cut off communication with four of the five children from the marriage, stripped them of their royal titles and diplomatic passports, and wrote letters, since posted online by an exiled academic, to their British boarding schools informing them that he would no longer pay their tuition. They now live in the United States, as does their mother.
His third marriage, also to a commoner, Srirasmi Suwadee, in 2001, produced the boy who is considered the next heir to the throne, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, 11, who lives in Bavaria with his father.
Thais got a rare insight into the third marriage when a video clip of an elaborate poolside birthday party circulated widely on computer discs and on the internet. The video, which showed the princess topless with a string bikini bottom being attended to by submissive palace staff, scandalized a public accustomed to perceiving the monarchy as a paragon of virtue.
It was never clear how the video had been leaked but some suggested that the prince’s enemies had spread it to promote the possibility that his sister Princess Sirindhorn, beloved by the public for her devotion to charitable causes, could become monarch in his stead.