Many pre­fer late ruler’s daugh­ter to the crown prince

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SIOB­HÁN O’GRADY

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

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