Updated: Former princess no longer a candidate PM

8 02 2019

The frenzy of media reports and social media analysis on Ubolratana’s nomination as prime ministerial candidate by the Thai Raksa Chart Party has to be re-done and all the speculation re-thought.

No one for a moment imagined that the flaky Ubolratana would have nominated without her brother’s agreement. No one considered that the party would have nominated her without full approvals in place. This seemed to be the case because Ubolratana is considered close to her brother.

Everyone was wrong. The king has denied her right to stand:

His Majesty made clear in the statement that although the princess had resigned from the royal family by law, she is still a royal family member by tradition. Princess Ubolratana still performed activities on behalf of the royal family, as well as being a beloved daughter of late King Bhumibol and a respected member of the royal family.

“Bringing a high-ranking member of the royal family to politics, in whatever manner, is an act in violation of the royal tradition and national culture and highly inappropriate,” the announcement reads.

“All constitutions, including the current one, have a chapter on His Majesty the King. It contains provisions endorsing the special status of the royal institution in line with the constitutional monarchy rule. The king is above politics and holds a position of respect. No one may violate, accuse or file charges against him in any way. The provisions also cover the queen, heir-apparent and royal family members close to the king.”

The same principles of being above politics and of political neutrality also apply to all royal family members. They may not hold any political position as it is against the intention of the constitutions and constitutional monarchy tradition, according to the announcement.

It seems that we may never learn what has gone on over the past 24 hours, at least not inside the royal family. Other questions now arise, such as: Was Thaksin Shinawatra ambushed? (He’s been ambushed by the palace before.) Will Ubolratana face some sanction from her brother? Will she rebel? (She has before.) What now for Thai Raksa Chart sans candidate for PM? Has the king effectively voted for Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha? There’s many more.

Update: Much of the reporting of Ubolratana’s commoner status has the palace propaganda on her alleged “resignation” from royal status. We thought it might be useful to reproduce the material on this from Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles:

In 1969, Ubolrat went to America to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, supposedly pursuing the goal of becoming a nuclear physicist. Her proud father held her up as an example to Thai students. In 1972, however, she broke his heart and upset plans for plugging the vulnerability in succession when the palace discovered she was dating an American classmate, Peter Jensen. Although several of the king’s uncles had married foreigners, Bhumibol and Sirikit attempted to block the relationship, as they apparently had in an earlier involvement she had with a non-royal Thai student. Stubborn and resentful of the confines of royal life, Ubolrat declared her intention to marry Jensen. In July 1972 the king reacted by angrily stripping her of her title, meaning her children would not be royal. A month later the young couple married, and Bhumibol virtually disowned Ubolrat. She did not return to Thailand for the next eight years.

Khaosod’s “report” on Ubolratana is nothing more than palace propaganda. The paper would be better to say nothing if it is simply going to repeat the palace’s accounts of a flaky princess.



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