Ex-Thai princess 'given sum for living expenses'

Former Srirasmi, seen here in a 2006 photo with her husband, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will be  given a sum of money for living expenses. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Former Srirasmi, seen here in a 2006 photo with her husband, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will be  given a sum of money for living expenses. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Thailand's Finance Minister has confirmed that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's third wife has been allocated a sum of money, amid speculation about a divorce settlement.

Mr Sommai Phasee, who is also chairman of the Crown Property Bureau, said in a statement yesterday that the bureau had allocated a sum for her and her family's living expenses. The statement did not indicate the amount, but asked the media to stop publishing inappropriate information.

Although there has been no official announcement of their divorce, the former princess Srirasmi, 43, resigned from her royal post last week. Local reports say that she now goes by the name of Srirasmi Suwadee.

The couple married in 2001 and have a nine-year-old son, whose status remains unclear. Until recently, he would have been in line for the throne after his father.

Several of Ms Srirasmi's relatives have been implicated in a vast police corruption probe in recent weeks, including her uncle Pongpat Chayapan, former chief of the Central Investigation Bureau.

Pongpat has been accused of soliciting bribes, facilitating oil smuggling, as well as defaming the monarchy, which carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Last month, the Crown Prince revoked the royal surname of Akharapongpreecha, which was bestowed on Ms Srirasmi's family when the couple got married.

The events are taking place at a sensitive time for the kingdom. The ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is seen as a moral authority in the politically divided nation, missed a public appearance for his 87th birthday on Dec 5 upon the advice of his doctors.

The country's 20th Constitution is being drawn up under a military government which came into power after the May 22 coup. Martial law remains in place.

tanhy@sph.com.sg