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Maha Vajiralongkorn

Vajiralongkorn
Crown Prince of Thailand

Spouse Soamsawali Kitiyakara
(1977–1991)
Yuvadhida Polpraserth
(1994–1996)
Srirasmi Akarapongpreecha
(2001–present)
Issue
Princess Bajrakitiyabha
Prince Juthavachara Mahidol
Prince Vacharaesorn Mahidol
Prince Chakriwat Mahidol
Prince Vatchrawee Mahidol
Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana
Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti
House House of Mahidol
Chakri Dynasty
Father King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (Rama IX)
Mother Queen Sirikit of Thailand
Born (1952-07-28) 28 July 1952 (age 62)
Dusit Palace, Dusit, Bangkok, Thailand
Religion Buddhism
Thai Royal Family

HM The King
HM The Queen



Somdet Phra Boromma-orasathirat Chao Fa Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayammakutratchakuman (Thai: สมเด็จพระบรมโอรสาธิราช เจ้าฟ้ามหาวชิราลงกรณฯ สยามมกุฎราชกุมาร; RTGS: —Mahawachiralongkon—; Thai pronunciation: [má.hǎː wá.ʨʰí.rāː.lōŋ.kɔːn]; Literally: "Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Royal Son and Crown Prince of Siam") (born 28 July 1952)[1] is the only son of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, and Queen Sirikit. He is the current Crown Prince of Thailand and heir apparent to the throne.

In 1972, at the age of 20, the king gave him the title "Somdech Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman", making him the Crown Prince and heir-apparent to the throne. He later graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra, Australia. An officer in the Thai military, he trained with the Australian, British and United States armed services. He is a qualified military pilot and helicopter pilot. He took an active part in military operations against the Communist Party of Thailand during the 1970s, and also led combat operations against a Vietnamese military incursion across the border from Cambodia .

Early life

Vajiralongkorn was born in the Ambara Villa of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. He was educated at a primary school in Bangkok, and then at private colleges in the United Kingdom (King's Mead School, Seaford and Millfield School, Somerset) and Australia (The King's School, Sydney).

Adult life

The Prince undertook military training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra, Australia, and also completed an arts degree at Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok. Since 1975, he has served as a career officer in the Royal Thai Army. He served as a staff officer in the Directorate of Army Intelligence, and in 1978 he became head of the King's Own Bodyguard Battalion. In that year, however, he interrupted his military career to be ordained for a season as a Buddhist monk, as is customary for all Thai Buddhist males.[2]

Vajiralongkorn trained for periods with the United States, British and Australian armed services, studying special forces demolition, unconventional warfare tactics and advanced navigation training. He is a qualified military pilot and a helicopter pilot. Although a military career is conventional for royal princes, Vajiralongkorn is unique among modern princes in having taken an active part in military actions inside his own country. In the 1970s he led counter-insurgency campaigns against the forces of the Communist Party of Thailand in the North and Northeast of Thailand, and also took part in operations along the border with Cambodia during the years of the Khmer Rouge regime.[3]

Role and responsibilities

Vajiralongkorn holds the ranks of General in the Royal Thai Army, Admiral in the Royal Thai Navy and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force. He has been cited as the pilot of an RTAF F-16,[4] and two Boeing 737s, HS-HRH[5] and HS-CMV.[6] His military role in recent years has become increasingly ceremonial. As his father has grown older, Vajiralongkorn has taken a more prominent part in royal ceremonial and public appearances.

He officially opened the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, held in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. The event coincided with the 80th birthday of his father Bhumibol.

Public and the media


Due to the lèse majesté law, criticism of the royal family is strictly prohibited in Thailand. However, Vajiralongkorn's private life continues to be a controversial subject of discussion, although not publicly. In the 10 January 2002 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), an article appeared suggesting that Vajiralongkorn had business ties with then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. An immediate ban was placed on distribution of the magazine, and the Thai government, citing a threat to national security, suspended the visas of the FEER's two Thailand correspondents, Shawn Crispin and Rodney Tasker.[7]

In 2002, The Economist wrote that, "Vajiralongkorn is held in much less esteem (than the king.) Bangkok gossips like to swap tales of his lurid personal life...Besides, no successor, however worthy, can hope to equal the stature King Bhumibol has attained after 64 years on the throne." This issue of The Economist was banned in Thailand. In 2010, another issue of The Economist (which was not distributed in Thailand) asserted that Vajiralongkorn is "widely loathed and feared" and "unpredictable to the point of eccentricity",[8] while the online journal Asia Sentinel alleged that he is "regarded as erratic and virtually incapable of ruling"[9] and was blocked shortly thereafter.[10] In a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks, senior Singaporean foreign ministry official Bilahari Kausikan asserted that Vajiralongkorn has a gambling habit which was partly funded by now exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.[11]

On 12 November 2009, a home video was released to Wikileaks showing Vajiralongkorn and a topless Princess Srirasmi celebrating the birthday of the Prince's poodle dog.[12][13] Part of this video was broadcast on the 'Foreign Correspondent' programme on the Australian government's ABC TV channel on 13 April 2010, as part of a half-hour documentary critical of the Royal family of Thailand.[14]

On 19 January 2009, Harry Nicolaides, an Australian national, was sentenced to three years in prison for self-publishing a fictional book deemed to have committed lèse majesté (later Nicolaides was pardoned by the king). The offending passage alluded to rumors that "if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever."[15][16] The global news network CNN refused to air the passage.[17]


In August 2011, the German judicial authorities in Munich impounded an aircraft, Boeing 737, belonging to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. Administrators seized the aircraft subject to a 20 year old debt of the Thai government to a now-defunct German construction corporation for the Don Mueang Tollway that has risen to some 30 million euros. The German authorities, who currently administer the corporation's interests in bankruptcy, have stated the measure was a "last resort" in accounting for the debt. The Thai government, which had theretofore not responded to German demands, called the move "highly inappropriate."[18][19] On 1 August Vajiralongkorn's office announced, he would pay the deposit amounting to 20 million Euro himself.[20] One day later the Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya confirmed that the Thai government would really pay the deposit.[21]

Family


On 3 January 1977 Vajiralongkorn married Princess Soamsavali Kitiyakara (born 1957), a first cousin on his mother's side. They had one daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha in 1978. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn started living with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth in the late 1970s and had five children with her. Although Princess Soamsavali had refused divorce for many years, Vajiralongkorn was finally able to sue for divorce in the Family Court in January 1993. In the court proceedings, Vajiralongkorn accused Princess Soamsavali of being completely at fault for the failed relationship. She was not able to refute the charges due to the prohibition against lèse majesté. The divorce was finalized in July 1993.[22] Princess Soamsavali and her daughter continue to play a significant role in royal ceremonies.

When Vajiralongkorn was introduced to Yuvadhida Polpraserth, she was an aspiring actress. She became his steady companion and gave birth to his first son, Prince Juthavachara Mahidol, on 29 August 1979. He later had three more sons and a daughter by her. They were married at a palace ceremony in February 1994, where they were blessed by the King and the Princess Mother, but not by the Queen. After the marriage, she was allowed to change her name to Mom Sujarinee Mahidol na Ayudhaya, signifying she was a commoner married to a royal. She was also commissioned as a major in the Royal Thai Army and took part in royal ceremonies with Vajiralongkorn. When she fled to Britain in 1996 with their children, Vajiralongkorn had posters placed around his palace accusing her of committing adultery with Anand Rotsamkhan, a 60-year-old air marshal.[23] The prince abducted their daughter and brought her back to Thailand to live with him. She was later elevated to the rank of princess, whilst Sujarinee and her sons were stripped of their diplomatic passports and titles. She and her sons later moved to the United States. As of 2007, Sujarinee is known as Sujarinee Vivacharawongse.

Vajiralongkorn married again, on 10 February 2001, to Srirasmi Akharaphongpreecha, a commoner from an otherwise modest background who had been in his service since 1992. The marriage was not disclosed to the public until early 2005. She gave birth to a son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, on 29 April 2005 and was elevated to become Princess Srirasmi, Mom Srirasmi Mahidol na Ayuthaya. The son was immediately elevated to the rank of Prince. In a magazine interview, Vajiralongkorn stated his intention to settle down.[24]

Styles of
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

Children

With HRH Princess Soamsawali (née Soamsawali Kitiyakara)  :

  • HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha, born (1978-12-07) 7 December 1978 (age 35).

With Mrs. Sujarinee Vivacharawongse (née Yuvadhida Polpraserth) :

  • HSH Prince Juthavachara Mahidol, born (1979-08-29) 29 August 1979 (age 34)
  • HSH Prince Vacharaesorn Mahidol, born (1981-05-27) 27 May 1981 (age 33)
  • HSH Prince Chakriwat Mahidol, born (1983-02-26) 26 February 1983 (age 31)
  • HSH Prince Vatcharawee Mahidol, born (1985-06-14) 14 June 1985 (age 29)
  • HSH Princess Busya Nambejra Mahidol (later changed to Chakkrityabha and Sirivanvari), born (1987-01-08) 8 January 1987 (age 27). Elevated to HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana by royal command on 15 June 2005.

With HRH Princess Srirasmi (née Srirasmi Akharaphongpreecha; elevated to HRH on 15 June 2005)  :

Thai Royal Decorations

  • The Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri
  • Order of the Nine Gems
  • Order of Chula Chom Klao
  • Order of the White Elephant
  • Order of the Crown of Thailand
  • Order of the Direkgunabhorn
  • The Order of Symbolic Propitiousness Ramkeerati (Special Class) - Boy Scout Citation Medal
  • Freeman Safeguarding Medal (First Class)
  • Border Service Medal
  • Chakra Mala Medal
  • King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal (First Class)
  • King Rama IX Rajaruchi Medal (Gold Class)
  • Red Cross Medal of Appreciation (First Class)

Foreign Decorations

  • Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
  • Order of the Elephant
  • Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Order of the Chrysanthemum
  • Order of Aviz (GCA, 31/12/1981)
  • Order of Charles III
  • Malaysia) : Second Class of the the Most Honorable Royal Family Order of Terengganu (DK II)

Ancestry

References

Further reading

Vajiralongkorn
Born: 28 July 1952
Thai royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Vajiravudh
Crown Prince of Thailand
1972 – present
Incumbent
First
Line of succession to the Thai throne
1st position
Succeeded by
Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti

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