Many prefer late ruler’s daughter to the crown prince
WASHINGTON: In 2001, Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s third wife, Princess Srirasm, celebrated her 30th birthday party by lying scantily clad on the floor, surrounded by several royal attendants.
Beside her were a birthday cake and Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo, the crown prince’s miniature white poodle that had mysteriously earned a senior ranking in the Thai Royal Air Force.
Few individuals knew about her somewhat strange and scandalous party until 2007, when Maha’s opponents leaked video footage of it in an effort to undermine his eventual takeover of the throne.
According to a cable made public by WikiLeaks, US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph “Skip” Boyce invited the royal couple to a gala at his residence a few months after the video leak, and the poodle came along.
“Foo Foo was present at the event, dressed in formal even- ing attire complete with paw mitts,” Boyce wrote. “And at one point during the band’s second number, he jumped up onto the head table and began lapping from the guests’ water glasses, including my own.”
Foo Foo died in February 2015, at the age of 17, and was cremated after a traditional Buddhist funeral.
By that time, Srirasm was relatively out of the picture: Maha had divorced her in 2014, and the palace had banned her from the property and charged her with corruption.
Plus, the prince was already making plans to marry his fourth wife – a Thai Airlines flight attendant.
Now, the Foo Foo video leak and the three divorces are just a handful of scandals that have many Thais hesitant to celebrate the prince’s appointment on Thursday to take over the monarchy after his father’s death.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Thursday at the age of 88, took over the throne at 18.
He was revered by Thais, who would not even watch a movie in theatres without standing to salute him and sing the national anthem before the show began.
Bhumibol certainly never intended to take over the throne, but he was given no choice after an unknown gunman shot and killed his elder brother in 1946.
Once in power, he solidified his reputation as a monarch who, would push Thailand into a decades-long makeover that would see a boom in its urban development and the emergence of a true middle class.
Bhumibol also purposely kept himself out of Thai politics unless necessary, at times criticising elected officials for pettiness and at one point housing a prime minister to avoid having him overthrown in a coup.
Many Thais would prefer he be replaced by his daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Unlike her playboy brother, she has never married.
Thais fear the crown prince, 64, lacks interest in living up to his father’s reputation – especially when it comes to staying out of politics. – Washington Post
Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn