BANGKOK (DPA, REUTERS, AFP) - King Maha Vajiralongkorn's new wife, Ms Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayutthaya, has been named Thailand's queen, effective from Wednesday (May 1), three days ahead of his coronation.
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 ceremony was overseen by King Vajiralongkorn wearing a white uniform in Bangkok’s Dusit Palace on Wednesday, according to a broadcast of the announcement, which showed Queen Suthida in a traditional Thai silk dress.
In 2014, King Vajiralongkorn appointed Ms Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant for Thai Airways, as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit.
Ms Suthida, 40, has long been rumoured to be romantically linked with King Vajiralongkorn since he was the crown prince, but their relationship was not made public until now.
The King 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 king ascended the throne when his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died in 2016 after seven decades on the throne.
His much-delayed coronation will be held on Saturday.
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 never given a reason for the continued delay, nor had he named the date until the beginning of this year.
Harsh lese-majeste laws have shielded public scrutiny of his colourful private life, and all media in Thailand must self-censor. It was not immediately clear what role Queen Suthida will play in the coronation ceremony.
King Vajiralongkorn, who is frequently abroad in Germany, 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.