King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Queen Suthida, Princess Bajrakitiyabha and Princess Sirivannavari Nariratan leave after they attend an event commemorating the death of King Chulalongkorn in Bangkok on Wednesday. Reuters
Thailand's king has stripped his royal consort of her titles and military ranks for disloyalty, accusing her of seeking to undermine the position of his official wife, the country's queen, for her own benefit.
The royal command by 67-year-old King Maha Vajiralongkorn, made public on Monday, came just three months after he granted 34-year-old Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi the consort title, reviving an old palace tradition of taking a junior wife.
Sineenatra had her title of Chao Khun Phra Sineenatra Bilasakalayani withdrawn, along with other royal and military titles and decorations.
In May, the king named longtime companion Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya his queen when they were married a few days before his formal coronation. Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years.
Monday's command condemned Sineenatra in harsh terms, concluding that her actions "are considered dishonorable, lacking gratitude, unappreciative of royal kindness, and driving a rift among the royal servants, making misunderstanding among the people, and undermining the nation and the monarchy."
Both the 41-year-old Suthida and Sineenatra have served as senior officers in palace security units. Suthida was previously a flight attendant with Thai Airways, while Sineenatra was an army nurse.
Vajiralongkorn has seven children by three previous marriages, all of which ended in divorce.
The royal command went into unusual detail in explaining why the action was taken against Sineenatra.
It accused her of misbehaving by actively seeking to block Suthida's appointment as queen in order to take the position herself, and said that when she failed to block her rival, her "ambitions and aspirations" led her to continue to seek ways to promote herself.
The statement said the king tried to alleviate the problem and take pressure off the monarchy by appointing Sineenatra his official royal consort.
However, it said, "She wasn't satisfied with the royally bestowed position and still did everything to be equal to the queen."
Further describing her alleged transgressions, it said she took advantage of her position by falsely claiming royal prerogatives to order people around, "making people misunderstand her position to gain profit and popularity for herself" in a manner she hoped would lead to the king giving her a position equal to that of the queen.
"She wasn't satisfied with the royally bestowed position and still did everything to be equal to the queen," the statement said.
Sineenatra's most recent whereabouts have not been publicized, leading to rumors that she had fallen from grace. She had previously appeared openly in palace-issued media.
Just two months ago, a palace website released scores of photos of her and the king, some in formal settings and others in markedly casual poses, such as taking part in flying, shooting and skydiving. Others showed her and the king holding hands, unusually intimate photos for members of the royal family.
The last time a Thai monarch had an official consort was during the reign of King Vajiravudh, who died in 1925. But consorts were more common in the 19th century, when they often received their appointments as a way of cementing alliances with regional power brokers when the kingdom was still known as Siam.
During his decades as crown prince, Vajiralongkorn's personal life was often the subject of hushed gossip, and he was once described by his mother, then the queen, as "a bit of a Don Juan." But public discussion of such matters is hampered by Thailand's harsh lese majeste law, which mandates prison terms of up to 15 years for those found guilty of insulting members of the royal family.
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