Thailand king coronation: Fears over ‘bullying and unpredictable’ monarch
THAI King Vajiralongkorn, who has been crowned in Bangkok today, has an unsavoury reputation but speaking against him could lead to 15 years in prison.
Today the king sat on a golden throne under a nine-tiered umbrella to receive royal items including a gold-enameled, diamond-tipped crown as many Thais dressed in the royal colour of yellow to show their respect.
Their new King was educated at Millfield, a boarding school in Somerset, where he shared a dorm with the journalist Rupert Christiansen who described him as “a vile bully,” according to The Times.
Mr Christiansen said: “The dormitory would often be rudely awoken in the small hours by his sudden melodramatic cackling, as though he had just dreamt up a scheme of bloody revenge and mayhem on those who had crossed him.”
Rarely seen making public appearances or speeches, and known for spending most of his time living in Germany where he owns £11.6m mansion, Vajiralongkorn has yet to inspire the same devout loyalty his father, King Bhumibol, who died in 2016 after seven decades on the throne.
The king said in his first royal command: “I shall continue, preserve and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever.”
Cables written by the US ambassador to Bangkok, and published by Wikileaks, go into details about his strange behaviour.
The ambassador, Eric John, says in one cable: “Long known for violent and unpredictable mood swings. The [then] crown prince has few people who have stayed long in his inner circle.”
King Maha Vajiralongkorn is known for his eccentricities, especially with his romantic relationships.
He is often pictured wearing revealing crop tops and his third wife, Princess Srirasmi, once appeared topless in a video taken during a birthday party for his poodle, Fufu.
Princess Srirasmi, married Vajiralongkorn in 2001 and fell from favour in 2014. Eight of her relatives were arrested, including her sister and two brothers. After she had been divorced by Vajiralongkorn, she was separated from her then nine-year old son, Prince Dipangkorn, the heir presumptive.
She was deprived of her royal name, and her elderly parents were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
This week, he caused further surprise with the announcement in the Royal Gazette that he had married a new queen — Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, a 40-year old former flight attendant on Thai Airways.