Royal consort back in Thai king’s inner circle

Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn has reinstated Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi as his royal consort, a year after she was dramatically stripped of her titles amid accusations of “disloyalty” and showing “ambition” to match the status of the queen.

The announcement in the Thai Royal Gazette, dated Aug 29, comes after German media published images of Sineenat – known by her nickname Koi – arriving in Munich, where the king is rumoured to spend most of his time each year.

“As Miss Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi has never been a tarnished person, His Majesty has given her the title of the royal consort, military ranks and royal decorations continuously,” the announcement in the Royal Gazette said.

“It will be regarded that she was never stripped of the royal consort title, military ranks and royal decorations previously.”

Sineenat officially entered the royal family on 28 July 2019 but was stripped of her royal and military titles just three months later.

A statement in the Royal Gazette at the time said she “was not satisfied with the position granted” and had “acted in every way to match herself” with Queen Suthida.

The public pardon of the 35-year-old royal consort, whose whereabouts have been unknown for the best part of a year, came as Thailand was witnessing a wave of student-led pro-democracy demonstrations, which have called for limits to be placed on the powers of the royal family.

The monarchy remains a highly controversial topic of debate in the Southeast Asian country, which has some of the strictest lèse-majestés in the world. Criticising the royal family can lead to a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Despite this, Thais have taken to social media in increasing numbers to comment on controversies linked to the monarchy since Vajiralongkorn came to the throne in 2016 following the death of his highly regarded father.

Vajiralongkorn became the first Thai king to appoint a royal consort in almost 100 years, after an announcement made on his 67th birthday in July 2019.

Polygamy fell out of fashion for Thai royals in the 20th century and was legally abolished in 1935.

Upon her appointment last year, Sineenat appeared in a series of official photographs published by the royal household. These images disappeared from the official website after her fall from grace.

Sineenat, who is from the north of Thailand, started her career as a nurse in a military hospital and made her way through the ranks of the Thai Army before entering the royal guard.

Vajiralongkorn married Queen Suthida three days before his coronation in 2019. The king, now 68, has had three previous wives.

His third marriage, with Srirasmi Suwadee, ended in controversy as Srirasmi’s family members were sent to prison for allegedly misusing their royal connections.

Little is known of what happened to Srirasmi, mother of first-in-line to the throne Prince Dipangkorn, since their separation in 2014.

Vajiralongkorn has six other children from two previous marriages, five of whom were stripped of titles and live in exile.

Since coming to the throne, Vajiralongkorn has consolidated the power of the royal family and his control over Thailand’s wealth but has so far failed to earn the popularity of his father, the venerated King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.

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