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Asia Minute: Royal Dismissals in Thailand

Thailand Royal Office via AP
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits on the throne with his official consort Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi at the royal palace. Late Monday, it was announced that Sineenatra has been stripped of her titles and military ranks for disloyalty.

This has been a busy week for developments in the royal family of Thailand. The king of Thailand has fired half a dozen officials — days after taking action against one of his closest confidantes.

It’s been a little more than three years since the death of the former king of Thailand. Bhumibol Adulyadej was on the throne for 70 years.

He was a beloved figure, and while Thailand’s monarchy is still protected by laws against criticism, the current king is a much different figure.

On Monday, news was released that the king had removed his “royal consort” for “misbehavior and disloyalty against the monarch.” A “royal consort” is palace-speak for a girlfriend — The Economistcalled her “an official mistress.”

It was only July when she was given the title of “Royal Noble Consort” — the first person to hold that position in nearly a century, according to Bloomberg.

The king had only announced his fourth wife as the queen three months before that.

According to the official Royal Gazette, the king’s consort was removed because she wanted to “elevate herself to the same state as the queen.”

On Wednesday, the Royal Gazette carried the news that the king had dismissed half a dozen officials attached to the Royal Household Bureau for “extremely evil” conduct. As close as the official news came to specifics was word that they were “exploiting their official positions for their own or other people’s gain.”

The Bangkok Post had little to say beyond a careful headline “Six senior officials dismissed on King’s orders.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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