Wikileaks: All in the family

10 06 2012

PPT has finished a first cull of the Wikileaks cables, and we have posted commentary on those that seemed of interest. We are now going back through the Cablegate database more systematically, and again we will gradually post comments on those that strike us as revealing. Apologies if we sometimes post on a cable we have had up before; there are a lot of them.

Given all of the material belching from the international media on England’s jubilee and the post on the Ananda Mahidol idolatry, a cable from 2 February 2005 seems worth some commentary. In it, Ambassador Ralph Boyce writes almost breathlessly about the then “latest news” on the royal family. The Embassy and State Department were eagerly royal-watching. If readers find tabloid-like “revelations” distasteful, read no further, for it is of that style.

Boyce reports on a 27 January 2005 ceremony with the king and Princess Sirindhorn leading to “a private audience” for Boyce and a couple of others.

The first big news item is that “the King showed great interest in all exchanges.” The second item is that a discussion of “mental health and family stability” animated him. Boyce says: “These issues are obviously near and dear to the heart of the King, and while involved in this free-flowing conversation, he made several notable remarks.”

On family stability, Boyce states that the king commented:

I understand how important it is to have both a mother and a father in a family unit. I lost my father at a very early age, and was raised by my mother. While she did a wonderful job of raising her children, she could not, alone, replace the role of a father.

Some might read into this the his own search for a father-figure, first amongst the old and senior princes who fought against the 1932 Revolution, followed by his adulation for General Sarit Thanarat, who reciprocated and overturned much that had been done post-1932 to reduce royal power.

On his kids, he is reported as stating:

I have four children. But she (Sirindhorn) is the only one who ‘sits on the ground with the people.’ She never married, but she has millions of children.

Not really anything new or startling in this reporting, but Boyce then turns to a conversation when he “called on Dr. Chirayu Isarangkul na Ayuthaya, Director-General of the Crown Property, on February 1, 2005.”

First, and, Boyce says “most significantly,”  Chirayu “said that the Crown Prince’s wife … is pregnant.” PPT isn’t sure why this is significant for he also says that this was widely known. Perhaps the significance is in the unstated hope for a boy that would allow the dynasty a line. Otherwise, the only boys were from the disowned Yuvadhida Polpraserth, who lives in exile in the U.S., with her 4 sons, having been thrown out of Thailand by the prince several years ago.

Chirayu mentions “the Crown Prince’s former consort, Mom Yuvathida (aka Mom Benz),” saying that:

Prince, Yuvadhida and kids in earlier times

on the Queen’s last visit to the United States she had agreed to an audience with Mom Benz and her children, but that Mom Benz had not made contact with the royal traveling party. Subsequently, Ambassador Sakthip was asked to travel to Florida to meet with Mom Benz and her children, but Mom Benz declined the meeting. Apparently, there is an issue of medical expenses for Mom Benz’s third son; the Crown Prince reportedly has made it clear that he will cover these expenses and that he does not want his mother or father to be burdened with the issue of his former family.

On the family itself and the favorite Sirindhorn,

Chirayu noted that it said as much about the failings of the King’s other three children as his fondness and respect for Princess Sirindhorn. The other three had tried to carryout their royal responsibilities, but clearly were not as capable or interested as Princess Sirindhorn.

On the king’s eldest daughter, Chirayu said that:

he had had to undertake much of the bitter legal mediation between Princess Ubolratana and Peter Jensen. He noted that their separation and divorce had been quite nasty and that Mr. Jensen had not come to Thailand to attend his son’s funeral. Chirayu said that he fended off queries as to where Mr. Jensen was by joking that he was afraid to come to Thailand because the Crown Prince would beat him up.


This is an interesting comment, for at the time there were rumors that Jensen had arrived in Thailand but had been turned away and the comment about the prince was widely circulated. It seems the palace knows how to score advantages from the rumor mill.

Remarkably, in a diplomatic cable, Boyce then adds his own re-statement of a rumor:

We have heard that Mr. Jensen borrowed money from several Thais and Thai banks prior to his divorce from Princess Ubolratana and that these funds have never been repaid.

The rumors usually have it that Ubolratana was a keen borrower.

It is sometimes commented that the royal family is dysfunctional. However, as the above rather odd diplomatic cable seems to indicate, while there are spats and disappointments, it seems to indicate that accommodations are made and the meatier things of conspicuous consumption and political and economic life probably hold sway over the squabbles.



3 responses

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