Office of Thai Crown Prince revokes wife's family name after graft probe link to her kin

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand and his wife, Princess Srirasmi, attend a dinner for foreign sovereigns hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Buckingham Palace on May 18 2012. -- PHOTO: SNAPPER MEDIA 
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand and his wife, Princess Srirasmi, attend a dinner for foreign sovereigns hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Buckingham Palace on May 18 2012. -- PHOTO: SNAPPER MEDIA 

THE office of Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has revoked the family name of his wife Srirasmi, days after several of her relatives were implicated in a police graft probe.

In a letter issued on Saturday, the Crown Prince's secretary, Air Chief Marshal Sathipong Sukwimol, terminated the royally bestowed surname of Akharapongpreecha, ordering those using it to revert to their original surname.

The royal family grants surnames to individuals who are deemed to have made great contributions to the country.

Princess Srirasmi, 42, the third wife of Prince Vajiralongkorn, was originally named Srirasmi Akharapongpreecha. They have a nine-year-old son.

Over the past week, her family has been discredited by a widening graft probe involving alleged extortion and oil smuggling, among other crimes.

Her uncle, former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, has been charged with graft and lese majeste, an offence that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

According to Bangkok Post reports, he and his collaborators had allegedly cited the monarchy when demanding bribes.

Several other senior policemen have also been implicated in the vast corruption probe, alongside three brothers Natthapol, Sitthisak, and Narong Akharapongpreecha, who are similarly accused of defaming the monarchy.

Narong has also been dismissed from his role as a civil servant in the royal household.

Among those who are allegedly part of this extortion gang is the former chief of a police unit, who fell to his death under mysterious circumstances a week ago and was cremated swiftly.

Thailand is currently governed by martial law following a military coup on May 22.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej is widely revered by Thais, who are anxious about the looming succession. He turns 87 on Dec 5.

tanhy@sph.com.sg