Thailand’s future uncertain as princess loses royal status

Thailand’s future uncertain as princess loses royal status

Princess Srirasm Suwadi of Thailand has “resigned” from her royal title – in a move that has left citizens of the Asian nation wondering what on earth is happening in the top tier of their revered royal household.

4:12PM GMT 13 Dec 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/thailand/11292066/Thailands-future-uncertain-as-princess-loses-royal-status.html

Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn stands next to royal consort Princess Srirasmi

Thailand’s ex-Princess Srirasmi Photo: PA

First, her family members were stripped of their positions – forced to stand down as army chiefs and advisers, and purged from the regime.

Then, as the net tightened, she found herself erased from the family photograph broadcast on the nightly news.

Now Princess Srirasm Suwadi of Thailand has lost her royal title – in a move that has left citizens of the Asian nation wondering what on earth is happening in the top tier of their revered royal household.

Their monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the world’s longest-reigning ruler, having sat on the throne for the past 64 years. The vast majority of Thais have known no other ruler, and although the 87-year-old has amassed an estimated £20 billion fortune, making him by far the world’s wealthiest monarch, he has managed to maintain his popularity – funding schools and hospitals, and carefully managing his image to appear as a man of the people.

In a country riven by political turmoil – and which is currently under military rule – he has been a constant, reassuring, father-like figure. Thailand has had more coups than any other country in contemporary history – since 1932, when the absolute monarchy was abolished, the country has had 25 general elections and 19 coups d’état, 12 of them successful. In times of crisis he has often stepped in to scold the politicians and order the troops back to their barracks – restoring order for a few more years.

But the King has been in poor health for some years, only occasionally appearing in public. Last week saw his 87th birthday celebrations, but the monarch was too ill to appear.

And Thais are increasingly worried about the future.

The heir to the throne, 62-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has a reputation as an unpredictable libertine with a lavish lifestyle. Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, has documented the catalogue of misdemeanours attributed to Thailand’s king-in-waiting, which suggests that the generational shift will not be seamless.

“The crown prince allegedly used his own planes to block the plane of a visiting Japanese prime minister on the tarmac in Bangkok in a fit of pique; threw a lavish birthday party for his pet dog at which his wife appeared topless in a leaked video; and stormed home early from a visit to Japan after he felt subjected to a series of minor protocol slights by Thailand’s most important investor,” he wrote.

The “demotion” of Princess Srirasm, formerly his lady in waiting who became his third wife, will only add to this reputation, and confuse matters further.

A statement published by the palace in the early hours of Saturday in the Royal Gazette said Princess Srirasm, 43, had relinquished her royal status, a move that signals the end her 13-year marriage to the crown prince.

“The king has granted permission to announce that Princess Srirasm, the wife of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has informed in a written document that she has resigned from her royal status,” the palace said in a short statement, signalling an end to the marriage.

The crown prince had already begun distancing himself from his wife last month, by ordering her family to stop using the name Akrapongpreecha, which he gave them after he married her. The king and the crown prince both have this privilege, akin to knighthoods in the UK.

At least three relatives with that surname were arrested in a corruption scandal. Many of the more than 20 detained in the graft probe have been charged for defaming the monarchy, with police saying they had made “false claims” about their relationship to a royal to justify committing crimes that allegedly ranged from running illegal casinos to oil smuggling, kidnapping and extortion.

And Princess Srirasm’s official demotion raises the question of what will come next.

The couple, who married in 2001, have a nine-year-old son, Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, who remains next in line to the throne after his father. It is thought the crown prince will retain custody of the boy.

He also has four sons and a daughter by his second marriage, whom he disowned in 1997 when he severed all ties with their mother, aspiring actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth. The children are reportedly banished from Thailand and now live in the US.

Suggestions are that he has another son, with his mistress – who could well become the fourth wife of the prince, and hence the next queen.

As ever in Thailand, details are extremely scarce. The country has among the world’s strictest “lèse-majesté” laws – carrying a sentence of up to 15 years in jail for anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent.” As a result hundreds of people are idling in prisons charged with insulting the royal family, and few newspapers dare to report on anything beyond the diktats issued in the Royal Gazette.

But such is the concern around the succession that, according to Andrew MacGregor Marshall, author of A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century, elites harbour hopes that they will be able to manoeuvre the king’s daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, into power and bypass the crown prince.

It is a bitter end to the tale of the humble woman who won the crown prince’s heart.

In a 2002 interview, as reported by Nation Multimedia, the reporter wrote how he “said he had spent about 10 years observing Srirasm before deciding she would be the one to complete his family life.”

Marking the princess’s first public appearance, he told the paper at the time: “I am now 50 years old and think I should have a complete family.

“I would like to set up a good family and she helps me take care of household issues and take care of my servants, as well as serving Her Majesty.”

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พลตรีหญิงท่านผู้หญิงบุษบา สุวะดีพระราชทานพระบรมราชานุญาตให้ พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าศรีรัศมิ์ พระวรชายาในสมเด็จพระบรมโอรสาธิราช เจ้าฟ้ามหาวชิราลงกรณฯ กราบบังคมทูลลาออกจากฐานันดรศักดิ์แห่งพระราชวงศ์

เมื่อวันที่ 12 ธ.ค. ราชกิจจานุเบกษาได้มีการเผยแพร่ประกาศเล่ม 131 ตอนที่ 29 เรื่องลาออกจากฐานันดรศักดิ์ ความว่า

พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดช มหิตลาธิเบศรรามาธิบดี จักรีนฤบดินทรสยามินทราธิราชบรมนาถบพิตร มีพระบรมราชโองการโปรดเกล้าโปรดกระหม่อมให้ประกาศว่า พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าศรีรัศมิ์ พระวรชายาในสมเด็จพระบรมโอรสาธิราช เจ้าฟ้ามหาวชิราลงกรณ สยามมกุฎราชกุมาร ได้นำความขึ้นกราบบังคมทูลสมเด็จพระบรมโอรสาธิราช เจ้าฟ้ามหาวชิราลงกรณ สยามมกุฎราชกุมาร เป็นลายลักษณ์อักษรว่า ขอพระราชทานกราบบังคมทูลลาออกจากฐานันดรศักดิ์แห่งพระราชวงศ์ ความทราบฝ่าละอองธุลีพระบาทแล้ว พระราชทานพระบรมราชานุญาต

ประกาศ ณ วันที่ 11 ธันวาคม พุทธศักราช 2557 เป็นปีที่ 69 ในรัชกาลปัจจุบัน

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