20 lese majeste cases

18 06 2021

At one time it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the military and royalists considered the devil and faced the most lese majeste charges. We think that he faced somewhere between four and six charges and several more accusations and investigations.

The record for lese majeste charges is, as Prachatai reports, now held by Parit Chiwarak or Penguin. He is “now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse [Yuvadhida Suratsawadee], and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are the source for information on the new charges. They report that “Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges…”.

These charges resulted from complaints by “Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens…”.

Readers will recall that it was only a few days ago that the same group of royalist, right-wing, fascists showed up at the very same TCSD more charges against those they claimed  violated lese majeste and computer crime laws. AT the time, police said Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and her royalist minions were  calling for charges against another 90 individuals. The new report adds that these 90 all made posts that they claim insulted Queen Suthida on her recent birthday.

Prince, Yuvadhida, and kids in earlier times

The complaints against Parit, however, “were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons.”

He also stands accused of “called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King’s younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand…”. She’s not covered by Article 112. However, it is also alleged that Parit “included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying ‘I know I’m bad’.” We guess if he’s convicted on that, then the rumor is proven.

In another post on 31 December 2020 it is alleged he “mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.”

In addition to the 20 lese majeste charges Parit now faces, he also has outstanding charges under the Computer Crimes Act, sedition, and more.

In these two most recent cases, Parit denied all charges. Startlingly, he reportedly “requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.” That may result in more charges.





Updated: Palace PR at full throttle III

23 11 2020

It may be that the current palace PR effort is about to be undone (again).

Royal critics Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Andrew McGregor Marshall have both has posted pictures they he says are from phones that once belonged to Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. Andrew McGregor Marshall has confirmed the existence of the photos. Many of the hundreds of photos are said to show her naked. Both imply that that the leaking of the photos is a part of a continuing conflict between Queen Suthida and Sineenat.

In the past, the leak of naked photos of the crown prince’s/king’s women have indicated some kind of “partner crisis.” The king has displayed a penchant for erotic images of his women and PPT has previously seen photos of former wives Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi and of current queen Suthida. Of course, the video of a naked Srirasmi has been widely circulated.

Pavin and Marshall, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, have begun leakeding some of the tamer photos this information with the latter claiming he’s had them for some time and initially decided not to make them public on moral and ethical grounds. It seems that several news outlets also have the photos, so it may be that they racier photos will come out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Marshall has posted links to German news media suggesting that the king’s troubles there are not over. One is an Ardmediathek video report and the other is a 2DF video report. Interestingly, Deutsche Welle reports that “Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn may be expelled from Germany if he issues decrees from his Bavarian villa, the Bundestag has said.” The report clarifies that the king has diplomatic immunity when he is in Germany, meaning that the “German state has very little power to prosecute the Thai king, despite recent threats by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.” Rather, Germany would need to expel “the king from Germany as a ‘persona non grata’…”.





With 3 updates: Model king? Model family?

2 01 2020

The king recently delivered his New Year homily with a straight face. The report of it implies that it was a live statement, but it may well have been pre-recorded as the king seems to prefer being in Europe.

Self-crowned

The new year message is something that his father did and Vajiralongkorn recognizes its propaganda value.

In this message he entreated Thais to:

have wisdom, faith and awareness while adhering to virtue, righteousness and appropriateness, and to be determined to contribute to national and public interest.

It is well known that Vajiralongkorn has difficulty meeting these standards in his own life and he seemed to recognize this, saying “that mistakes and flaws were natural in any kind of work.”

But in saying that such mistakes and flaws “should serve as lessons to enhance experiences and wisdom to prevent recurrences and to create development” seem to be contradicted by his repeated “mistakes.”

His high-profile promotion of his mistress to official concubine, only to throw her in prison months later, while obliterating her from media and even demolishing her family house seems a re-run of earlier failed relationships.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

2019’s fall of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi (Niramon Ounprom) had sad resonances of his terrible treatment and public shaming of earlier wives, Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi Suwadee.

He seems unable to find “righteousness” in dealing with wives and mistresses. Wisdom seems to avoid him.

The king also produced advice about “keep[ing] up … morale and physical health while remaining mindful of their conduct.” He added that he “hoped people would live their lives with decency, righteousness and in moderation…”.

Vajiralongkorn places great stock in fitness and physical appearance, having ordered special haircuts, uniforms, physical regimes and fingernail inspections for his staff and the forces he has taken over. That regimen has been adopted by the hopelessly monarchist military brass. But “decency”? That seems a quality lacking in the current palace.

In yet another message, the king encouraged Thai children to apply “knowledge and morality” to “build a better society.” This is a pre-recorded message as it is for Children’s Day on 11 January.

The king is said to “care” about children and their future.

We wonder why one of his favored children – Princess Sirivannavari – is currently in the unusual situation of being criticized and having to be defended for shockingly selfish. But that’s also a pattern seen in the king’s own life.

It is probably not remarkable that monarchs and their family behave badly. But in Thailand, it is unusual for this behavior to be criticized. And, a king who seems to favor absolutist ways is unlikely to notice the hypocrisy and double standards of his speeches and exhortations.

Hopefully Thais do not see the king or his family as role models.

Update 1: Khaosod removed the story on Princess Sirivannavari, so here it is in full:

Netizens Furious at Authorities Closing Down Popular Islands

BANGKOK — Twitter is up in flame on Thursday following a decision to shut down tourist islands in the south over the New Year holidays to provide security for a group of high-profile visitors. The hashtag #IslandsShutDown appears to be trending on Thai Twitterverse by Thursday afternoon, where many users criticize the local authorities for causing disruption to the public. One of the trip delegates later acknowledged the criticism and apologized for the inconvenience.

National park and marine officials closed off the islands of Bi Da, Pan Yi, and He from holidaymakers on Dec. 29, Dec 31, and Jan. 1, respectively, according to internal memos sent to government agencies in Krabi, Phang Nga, and Phuket provinces.

The memos said Princess Sirivannavari was traveling to the islands on a private visit. Local officials were instructed to prevent fishermen and divers from entering the area due to security
concerns.

After backlash made its rounds on social media, a celebrity who accompanied Princess Sirivannavari on her trip said she wasn’t aware of the protocols adopted by security officers who guarded those attractions.

Writing on her Instagram account, ML Songlak Svasti also apologized for the inconvenience, and said she was willing to listen to feedback from the public.

“Our group is not being idle about this issue, and we sincerely acknowledge the criticism you have written,” Songlak wrote in reply to one of the critics.

Update 2: Clips from Khaosod added above.

Update 3: A correspondent at The Royal Forums reports on events since October 2019 that have seen residents complaining about the monarch and his family. It implies that this large rise in criticism represents a decline in the royals’ “popularity.”

Implicit in all of this is the fear among royalists that the monarchy remains under attack. Watch Gen Apirat Kongsompong who has been criticizing all kinds of “opponents” but zeroing in on Future Forward Party and its leaders. Is a showdown coming?





Vajiralongkorn takes another wife

2 05 2019

Barely mentioned in the mainstream media before today, King Vajiralongkorn has taken Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya as his fourth official wife and new queen.

Reports now mention her as General Suthida, a rank given to her by Vajiralongkorn about the time he became king. He has given military rank to several wives and consorts in the past.

The Post states:

Since the marriage took place in line with the law and royal traditions, Queen Suthida is henceforth entitled to all the benefits of royal rank and status of the royal family, according to an announcement dated Wednesday and published in the Royal Gazette.

The fourth official wife Vajiralongkorn has had, the ceremony saw the officials register the marriage, witnessed by Princess Sirindhorn and Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.

The king has several consorts and has been seen with them in Germany. He was also seen in the infamous crop-top/fake tattoo photos with her.

Previous reporting on the 40 year-old Suthida has tended to coincide with her official promotions.

One event, in 2017, saw her awarded one of the highest royal decorations as commander in King Vajiralongkorn’s guard. Essentially, this made Suthida the “de facto head of security for … the King. Although she formally holds the title of deputy commander of the royal guard corps, the top rank had been left vacant since December 2016.” It was said Suthida had been serving in the royal guards since 2013.

The relationship between Vajiralongkorn and Suthida goes back several years.

In 2017, BBC Thai had a useful account of Suthida’s rise, beginning from 2012 and listing the many promotions and awards that have been showered on her by the prince-now-king, with each event is linked to the Royal Gazette.

Given her long relationship with Vajiralongkorn, we guess she knows what she’s getting into. His three previous marriages all ended in bitterness and some of them in terror.

As crown prince, Vajiralongkorn’s first official marriage was in early 1977 to his first cousin on Queen Sirikit’s side, Soamsawali.

It was an unhappy marriage.

The relationship had ended long after the prince abandoned Soamsawali, when she was pregnant, for the woman who would become his second official wife, Yuvadhida Polpraserth.

Soamsawali was protected by her family position after the divorce in 1991. She remained a member of the royal family as the mother of a royal grandchild.

Prince, and kids in earlier times

Yuvadhida was an actress from low-budget films that some saw as soft porn. Her official marriage to Vajiralongkorn in 1994 was only announced to the public a while after it took place. This was because the prince’s philandering was viewed dimly by the public.

Yuvadhida produced sons and a daughter. Within a couple of years, however, the family was thrown out of Thailand in a fit of princely rage over what might have involved allegations of her infidelity.

Only the daughter, now Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, returned to live with Vajiralongkorn, with the sons and their mother living in the U.S.A.

Meanwhile, the prince had already taken up with Srirasmi, made infamous by the leaked nude birthday party video.

She produced a son who is considered heir apparent, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti.

Srirasmi’s ousting from the palace when the prince tired of her was nasty and vicious.

It seems she remains in Thailand but is in imposed seclusion and several members of her family have served jail terms.

Given the turmoil of the past, the new marriage will be watched with considerable interest, although reporting on it will not be possible in Thailand.





The king’s laundry I

21 05 2017

Thailand’s military dictatorship is expanding its already frantic efforts to create a political landscape cleansed of anything that shows the real king as other than the “official king.” Like slaves and handmaidens of centuries past, the junta is busy laundering the king’s image and cleaning up his own messes.

The laundered image is the often grim, sometimes seemingly bemused man in business suit and more often a military uniform, trailed by a daughter or officials appropriately bowed or slithering.

The only concession to a more real view is that the junta’s version does allow for the now most senior consort to be regularly seen.

His earlier and third wife, Srirasmi, had been thrown into house arrest and her family jailed in late 2015 as the then prince prepared for his reign.

The new, apparently official, number one consort is also often in the military uniform of a general. She was promoted by the king to this position. Her only “qualification” is that she is the king’s consort.

The image the junta launderers don’t want seen is that of the king trailing around his beloved Munich, dressed like fashion moron, sporting mail-order tattoo transfers and accompanied by another of his girlfriends, a legion of servants and a fluffy dog.

PPT doesn’t think fashion is a necessary qualification for being king. After all, that has to do with blood. Yet his “style” says something about the man. His desire to keep this side of his life from his Thai audience is also telling. (We do not believe that the military junta would be so frantic about these images if it wasn’t being pushed by a king known to be erratic, wilful and menacing.)

The seemingly demented efforts a week ago to threaten Facebook may not have been entirely successful, but they are again revealing. The Economist reflects on these bizarre and dangerous efforts to repress for the king:

Thailand has always treated its royals with exaggerated respect, periodically clapping people deemed to have insulted the king behind bars. But some thought the death of the long-reigning King Bhumibol in October and the accession of the less revered Vajiralongkorn might curb the monarchists’ excesses. Instead, it seems to have spurred them on. The military junta that runs the country is enforcing the draconian and anachronistic lèse-majesté law with greater relish than its predecessors.

We are not sure who could have thought that a new king, often secretive and with a reputation for vindictiveness, might have eased up.

Indeed, this king has a long history of lese majeste cases in his name. One of the first cases we wrote about at PPT was of Harry Nicolaides, an Australian who wrote a forgettable novel that included these lines:

From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives “major and minor “with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumoured 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.

Harry was probably writing of second wife, Yuvadhida, but the words could also be applied to the treatment  of Srirasmi.

Those words must have enraged somebody. They earned Harry a sentence of six years  in jail on 19 January 2009 (reduced to three years on pleading guilty). This for defaming the then crown prince now king.

If not in Thailand, where it is illegal, read Nicolaides’ novel here. Note that this scanned version of the book bears the stamp of the National Library of Thailand but should not be downloaded in Thailand.

The Economist continues:

At least 105 people have been detained or are serving prison sentences for lèse-majesté, compared with just five under the elected government the junta overthrew in 2014. Many of them posted critical comments about the royal family on social media; some simply shared or “liked” such comments. Other arrests have been on even pettier grounds. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a student activist, is on trial for sharing a profile of King Vajiralongkorn published by the BBC’s Thai service. Police have warned that those agitating for his release could themselves face charges. A well-known academic, Sulak Sivaraksa, remains under investigation for several instances of lèse-majesté, including questioning whether a 16th-century battle involving a Thai king really took place.

As we have said, this number of lese majeste cases is too low. Quoting the low number allows the prince-now-king too much latitude. The lese majeste arrests and charges have been swelled by various palace purges by Prince, now King, Vajiralongkorn. Lese majeste has been widely used against those he dislikes. Give him the “credit” he deserves and for this nastiness and vindictiveness.

The Economist mentions the (almost) latest set of six cases (we will post separately on another set of cases):

This month security forces arrested Prawet Prapanukul, a human-rights lawyer best known for defending lèse-majesté suspects. He risks a record 150 years in jail if convicted of all ten counts of lèse-majesté he faces. Several recent sentences for insulting royals have exceeded 50 years; the standard for murder is 15-20 years.

All of this is followed by a banal claim by the newspaper: “Thai kings have a long history of fostering democratic reform…”. There is simply no adequate historical evidence for such a claim. It is a royalist fabrication based on notions of Thai-style democracy that is “democracy with the king as head of state,” exactly what the current junta is promoting: no democracy at all.

That Vajiralongkorn is going to be ruthless and anti-democratic should not be a surprise to anyone. He comes from a long line of anti-democratic kings who have protected privilege by working with the military. The only threat to the continuing of this monarch-military dictators alliance is if the junta gets so ticked off with the king that it decides to do away with him. That possibility seems somewhat remote.

The more likely outcome for the short to medium term is more censorship and ever more maniacal efforts to police the king’s image and wash his dirty laundry.





Updated: Lese majeste as farce II

2 03 2015

Under the royalist military dictatorship, things monarchical just get madder by the minute.

Any reasonable person who heard a claim by a General that and event that could “lead to an overthrow of the regime of democracy with the King As Head of State or affects the national security, peace and order, and good morality of the people” might think that something significant had taken place. But not in the land of monstrously mad monarchists.

Khaosod reports that Lt. Gen Peerapong Manakit, a member of the regulatory National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) has declared that the Commission has “launched an investigation into a state-owned TV station after one of its anchors misidentified a member of the Royal Thai Family in a news program.”

Obviously a heinous crime has been committed. Anyone who views the nightly royal propaganda that is broadcast knows that newsreaders regularly stumble over the faux ancient names and titles given to themselves by the royals. The ridiculousness of reporting the daily visits by well-fed  royals is a ritual demanded by the palace and state.

PPT is always surprised how straight-faced the announcers are as this parade of odd looking curiosities takes place. Yet we know the smallest stumbles and mistakes get the newsreaders into hot water.

Soam and OThe General claims that “the incident took place this morning when a Channel 3 anchorwoman ‘incorrectly stating the royal name and rank’ of Princess Soamsawali, former wife of Thai Crown Prince, in a news report about Her Royal Highness’ trip to a temple.” As the report helpfully points out, “Princess Soamsawali was married to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn in 1977. The couple divorced in 1991.”

Soamsawali was wife no. 1, and is the prince’s first cousin. Since then he’s had two other official wives, both now kicked out and both disgraced by the prince with charges and attacks. One (Yuvadhida Polpraserth) is in exile and the other languishes in virtual house arrest as her family and associates have all been jailed (Srirasmi). We imagine that burying and disgracing a blood relative was not possible following Soamsawali’s divorce from the prince.

It is Peerapong who claims that this “mistake constitutes a violation of the 2008 Thai Public Broadcasting Service Act, which forbids airing content that could ‘lead to an overthrow of the regime of democracy with the King As Head of State or affects the national security, peace and order, and good morality of the people’.”

The report claims that “[r]epresentatives of Channel 3 have been summoned to give testimony to the NBTC ‘urgently’…”, with the General stating that “punishment will be decided after the commission listens to Channel 3’s side of the story.” He referred to the Channel 3 “side of the story” as “testimony in our deliberation of punishment.”

As usual, guilt in royal matters is assumed.

So heinous is this “crime” in the land of royal make-believe that the “general also asked media agencies not to publish details about Channel 3’s alleged wrongdoing, or else they will be liable for prosecution as well.”

We imagine, based on the befuddling use of the lese majeste law of late, that the military dictatorship may make this event another case.

Given that the king and queen are no longer visible, we can assume that the regime of lese majeste lunacy is a symbol of the forthcoming reign under military dictatorship.

Update: Prachatai reports that the news anchor read the formal name and title of Srirasmi Suwadee, the third former wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn “who was recently demoted to commoner, instead of Princess Soamsawali’s name.” Given the purge of Srirasmi’s family and the attempt to expunge her prior to succession and the prince’s fourth official marriage, the thundering, huffing and puffing and threats and general ridiculousness is both a sign of the future and an indicator of the depths of feudal decay that Thailand has been dragged by mad monarchists, the military and the palace.





Updated: Family affairs I

29 11 2014

A few days ago PPT posted on Thailand’s big but still murky story. The case involving senior police, including an uncle of Srirasmi (Srirasm) Akharapongpreecha, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s then official consort, has widened.

Prachatai reports that:

Three brothers and two more people connected to a network of high ranking police officers charged with lèse majesté are accused of defaming the monarchy, illegal possession of weapons, robbery, and holding others for ransom. A total of seven people involved in this case have now been charged with lèse majesté.vajiralonkgkor_srirasami

The investigators on 28 November detained three siblings, Natthapol, Sitthisak, and Narong Akharapongpreecha, and Sutthisak Sutthijit and Chakan Phakphum, who are allegedly criminally associated with Pol Lt Gen Pongpat Chayapan.

The five suspects are charged with defaming the monarchy, carrying weapons in public, possessing unlicensed weapons, robbery, and unlawful detention. All of them pleaded guilty to all charges.

According the ASTV-Manager, Pol Maj Gen Sriwara Rangsiphrammanakul, commander of the Metropolitan Police stated at the press briefing that three of the five, Natthapol, Narong, and Chakan also have also been charged with extortion, unlawful detention, and robbery by Phrakhanong Police Station and Wat Phraya Krai Police Station.

The report doesn’t state the obvious, but these three brothers have the same family name as the prince’s consort. Clearly, the Akharapongpreecha family is in deep trouble. Some say that the clean-out is part of the succession struggle. Others say it is about bringing down Srirasmi’s “network.”

Whatever is really happening, something significant is happening in and around Vajiralongkorn’s family. Of course, he is seldom around, spending most of his time overseas, mostly in Germany, and it might be suggested that he may not have been aware of the PrinceAkharapongpreecha family amassing huge stores of ill-gotten gains. That would seem highly improbable. More likely is that this is a messy separation with a fight over custody and wealth.

We are guessing, like everyone else, but these events do have some resonances with the prince’s previous separation from earlier wives, all of which have seen murky and often nasty events play out.

In the 1980s, his separation from cousin Soamsawali for Yuvadhida Polpraserth saw an anti-royal leaflet campaign. As one of our posted documents states (Updated link: clicking downloads a PDF that is probably illegal in Thailand):

Prince, and kids in earlier times

Prince, and kids in earlier times

… a stunning series of leaflets attacking the monarchy right at the height of the King’s birthday celebrations [were released]. Emerging from the shadows of gossip and hearsay, the pamphlets were suddenly everywhere. The military and police found it necessary to interrupt normal radio and television programming just three days after the King’s birthday to denounce the anonymous authors as ‘… enemies of the nation … bent on undermining the monarchy’ (Far Eastern Economic Review, 24 December 1987). The military and police claimed that the offending literature was from ‘a group of the Kingdom’s enemies’ (Bangkok Post, 9 December 1987); not just of the monarchy, it should be noted, but the whole country.

What was expressed in these leaflets to provoke such an extraordinary response? A brief excerpt from one of the offending leaflets will provide the flavour: ‘Sia O is totally besotted by Nang Yu [Yuvadhida]. So much so that he would willingly sniff her feet, or any other part of her body for that matter, since there is nothing he would not do for her.’

 When the prince got sick of her and wanted Srirasmi, the ditching of Yuvadhida was public and nasty. As one website has it:

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. 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.

There’s more here. The “problem” of Yuvathida and her sons was mentioned in Wikileaks and is also mentioned at New Mandala.

With this history, thinking that the prince might be sorting out his family affairs might be a reasonable guess. The prince has seldom sorted these things out quietly in the past.

We also have to wonder about the treasure trove allegedly unearthed by the police. Was this all stored for illicit wealth in the future? Or was it a collection?





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.

Ubolratana

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.