Thailand‘s King has made his mistress a royal consort in front of his wife, marking the first time the country’s modern monarchy has publicly admitted to polygamy.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn made 34-year-old Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi his chao khun phra (royal noble consort) in a ceremony on his 67th birthday, with Queen Suthida sat next to him.
He poured ceremonial water over Ms Sineenat’s head to officially anoint her a concubine during a televised service on Sunday.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn made 34-year-old Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi (pictured during the ceremony) his chao khun phra (royal noble consort) in a ceremony on his 67th birthday
He poured ceremonial water over Ms Sineenat’s head (pictured) to officially anoint her a concubine during a televised service on Sunday
The move marks the first time a Thai king has publicly had more than one partner since an absolute monarch ruled the country in 1932, with the King’s recently made wife (right) sitting through the ceremony
The move marks the first time a Thai king has publicly had more than one partner since an absolute monarch ruled the country in 1932.
Major general Sineenat was also given four medals, such as ‘most noble order of the crown of Thailand’ and ‘most exalted order of the white elephant, special class’, as well as being lauded for her time as a senior officer in the King’s bodyguard team the Ratchawallop Police Retainers.
Ms Sineenat, who is known as Koi but used to be called Niramon Ounprom, was formerly a nurse at the Ananda Mahidol army hospital.
Ms Sineenat (pictured in 2017), who is known as Koi but used to be called Niramon Ounprom, was formerly a nurse at the Ananda Mahidol army hospital
The announcement of her as royal consort has not come faced criticism in Thailand as under lèse-majesté laws those who offend the crown can get up to 15 years in prison.
Yet in private it is understood many Thais see the King as eccentric and possibly immoral.
The news comes less than three months after the King married another former consort Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya, who had been a Thai Airways flight attendant.
The marriage took place ahead of a coronation, which was the first since Vajiralongkorn’s late father’s nearly 70 years ago
Photos from their wedding at the start of May showed Ms Suthida lying on the floor as she was given a gift by the King.
She ‘legally married’ the King in accordance with royal traditions, an announcement in the Royal Gazette said on May 1, with a statement from the royal family explaining the King had decided to promote General Suthida to become Queen Suthida.
The statement added at the time that ‘she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family’.
Queen Suthida signs marriage licence documents during the royal marriage registration ceremony while a member of the royal court lay at the King’s feet in May
It was also explained that the monarch had ‘performed a royal wedding ceremony with General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Aydhaya in accordance to law and royal traditions in a full and righteous manner’, which explains why the bride had to lay at her husband’s feet.
Thai royal traditions dictate that the ruling King is to be regarded as god-like and semi-divine, and as a result, he must sit higher than everyone else.
This is to the point that during official ceremonies and speeches his feet should be elevated above everyone else’s heads.
Why did King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s bride have to lay at his feet?
According to royal tradition in Thailand, the ruling monarch is seen as god-like and semi-divine, and is revered as such among his subjects.
As a result, the King must always be seated higher than everyone else, and during official ceremonies, events, and speeches, the monarch’s feet are supposed to be above the heads of those around him.
Tradition also dictates that guests at the Thai Royal Palace are required to approach the King and Queen crawling on their hands and knees; this custom was even observed while King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, sat on the throne, despite the fact that he was known to his people as a kind and humble ruler.
It is therefore viewed as a sign of great respect for the bride to lie at the feet of the King, before being invited to sit by his side during the marriage ceremony, when she was given the official title of Queen Suthida.
Moving forward, it will likely be expected that other members of the royal court, as well as visiting guests, will approach the royal couple in a similar manner, as one aide was seen doing during the wedding ceremony, lying before the King and his Queen while the bride signed the marriage license.
Thailand’s lese majeste laws also make it illegal to defame, threaten, or even insult ‘the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent’. Article 112 of the country’s criminal code dictates that anyone found guilty of this crime can be punished with between three and 15 years of jail time.
Vajiralongkorn, who has been married three times, spends much of his time with his wife and mistress at the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl in the German resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Yet Queen Suthida reportedly spends most of her time at Hotel Waldegg in Engelberg, Switzerland, without the King.
The King was educated at Millfield boarding school in Somerset and was described by his roommate the journalist Rupert Christiansen as a ‘vile bully’, according to the Times.
Harsh lese-majeste laws have shielded public scrutiny of his colourful private life, and all media in Thailand must self-censor.
But he is well known for his eccentricity.
In 2016, he was spotted wearing a tight, white crop top, his body adorned with temporary tattoos and holding a white fluffy poodle, while standing next to his then consort.
A father-of-seven, he has three failed marriages, a love of fast jets and a reputation for having an explosive temper.
During an attempted coup in Thailand in 2014, a film was published online of his third wife dressed in nothing but a black G-string while she sang happy birthday to the royal couple’s beloved pet poodle, Fufu.
In 2009, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra spoke of his doubts about the then-Prince’s suitability for the role of king.
In 2007, footage published online showed the King throwing a party for his now dead pet poodle – who held the rank of Air Chief Marshall – at the Royal Palace in Bangkok.
Princess Srirasmi, who sang happy birthday to the dog topless, also got on her knees and ate from a dog bowl in the same video.
The relationship between the King and his new Queen has been compared to the famous musical The King and I.
The play follows strong-willed, widowed schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, who arrives in Bangkok at the request of the King of Siam to tutor his children.
Romantic feelings later blossom between the King and tutor.
His former wives include Princess Soamsawali, who he divorced in 1991 after 13 years and a daughter, and Princess Sujarinee, who is exiled in the US.
Her four sons wrote a letter in 2016 saying the King had forced them into exile and had private detectives follow their friends and family.
King Vajiralongkorn married Princess Srirasmi in 2001 but she lost favour in 2014 and eight of her relatives were arrested.
She lost contact with her son Prince Dipangkorn, who was the heir, and her elderly parents got two and a half years in prison.
Who is the playboy prince that became king? Thai monarch has spent most of his life overseas and been married three times before
King Maha was born on July 24, 1952 in Bangkok’s Royal Dusit Palace, the 64-year-old is the only son and male heir of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.
As an adolescent he studied at two public schools in Britain, including King’s Mead School, Seaford, Sussex, and then at Millfield School, Somerset. After, he embarked on a military career, training in Australia.
In 1976, he graduated as a newly commissioned lieutenant with a liberal arts bachelors degree from the University of New South Wales.
Pictured: Queen Sirikit of Thailand with Prince Maha (left) and Princess Rajakanya in 1953
King Maha was born on July 24, 1952 in Bangkok’s Royal Dusit Palace. As an adolescent he studied at two public schools in Britain
After graduating he started a career in the military training with US, British and Australian armed forces. He also qualified as a a fixed wing helicopter pilot in the late 1970s in the Royal Thai Army.
His military career was interrupted in 1978 so he could be ordained for a season as a Buddhist monk, as is customary for all Thai Buddhist men.
He married his first wife in 1977, a cousin, Princess Soamsavali Kitiyakara, with whom he has a daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha in 1978. They divorced in 1993.
He wed his first cousin Soamsawali Kitiyakara (left) in January 1977 but nine months after she gave birth to his daughter the prince had a son with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth
The King, a licensed pilot, in the cockpit of a fighter jet with one of his five children
Nine months after his daughter was born, the prince had a son with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth, with whom he went on to have a total of five children and a tumultuous relationship.
Three years later his relationship broke down with Ms Polpraserth as she fled to the UK in 1996, after a spectacular bust up.
In 2001 he wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee, describing her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone’ and like his previous relationships there were to be a number of controversies in their time together.
In 2007, footage published online showed the couple throwing a party for his pet poodle – who held the rank of Air Chief Marshall – at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Princess Srirasmi, a former waitress, who sang happy birthday to the dog topless, also got on her knees and ate from a dog bowl in the same video.
Footage from 2007 shows Prince Maha throwing a birthday party for his pet poodle Fufu – who held the rank of Air Chief Marshall – at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Pictured: His third wife dressed in nothing more than a G-string to celebrate Fufu’s birthday
In 2001 he wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee (pictured with their son Dipangkom Rasmijoti), describing her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone’
In late 2014, Srirasmi suffered a very public fall from grace when several members of her family were arrested as part of a police corruption probe and charged with lese majeste (treason).
Vajiralongkorn later divorced her and she lost her royal titles . The crown prince has spent much of his time away from the public eye, but in recent years he has stepped in at some official ceremonies as his father’s health declined.
Despite holding a number of military titles, including Knight of the Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems, the prince admitted to an interviewer he was unable to tie his own shoe laces aged 12 because courtiers had always done it for him.
The crown prince has spent much of his time away from the public eye, living overseas in Germany, but in recent years he has stepped in at some official ceremonies as his father’s health declined.
In August 2015 he led key figures of the current junta and thousands of others in a mass bike ride through Bangkok, a rare high-profile appearance.
He was drafted in as King in October 2016, 50 days after the death of his father, the highly revered Bhumibol Adulyadej. He had to fly back from Germany after learning of his father’s deteriorating health in the days before.
Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the Crown Prince would ascend the throne with tthe statement: ‘The government will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King appointed his heir on Dec. 28, 1972.’
However, in a shock move he requested to delay his coronation and ascension to the throne for a year to mourn the passing of his father.