BANGKOK • King Maha Vajiralongkorn's new wife, Ms Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, has been named Thailand's Queen effective yesterday, ahead of his coronation on Saturday.
The announcement was made in the Royal Gazette, which said the King has legally married Ms Suthida but did not specify the date of their marriage.
The Royal Gazette said Queen Suthida, a former Thai Airways flight attendant, had "legally married" the King in accordance with royal traditions.
"Therefore, he bestows (the title) on General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya from Queen Consort to Queen Suthida as of now," said the announcement.
At a ceremony yesterday at Bangkok's Dusit Palace, the couple took part in a royal marriage registration, according to a palace TV pooled news broadcast of the event. It showed Queen Suthida in a traditional Thai silk dress.
In 2014, the then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn appointed Ms Suthida as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit. Ms Suthida, 40, had been rumoured to be romantically linked with him since then, but their relationship was not made public until now.
He subsequently made Ms Suthida a full general in December 2016, and the deputy commander of the King's personal guard in 2017. He also made her a Thanpuying, a royal title meaning Lady.
Queen Suthida is King Vajiralongkorn's fourth wife. The King has five sons and two daughters from his previous marriages.
The 66-year-old ascended the throne when his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died in 2016 after seven decades on the throne.
King Vajiralongkorn attributed the reason for the initial delay of his coronation to the mourning for his late father, who was deeply revered as a father figure and moral authority, but has neither given a reason for the continued delay nor named the date until the beginning of this year.
King Vajiralongkorn is the world's richest monarch according to business news website Business Insider, having last year taken full ownership of the Crown Property Bureau, which is estimated to have at least US$30 billion (S$40.8 billion) worth of holdings.
The King is frequently abroad in Germany.
Harsh lese majeste laws have shielded his private life from public scrutiny, and all media in Thailand must self-censor.
DPA, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE