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Politics

Thai king reinstates consort along with full titles and rank

Palace turnabout comes amid unprecedented debate over the monarchy

Thailand's Royal Noble Consort Sineenat has been completely rehabilitated and reunited with King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Germany.    © Thailand's Royal Office/AFP/Jiji

BANGKOK -- After spending time out of the public eye, Sineenat "Koi" Wongvajirapakdi has been rehabilitated and reinstated as royal noble consort to King Maha Vajiralongkorn, royal officials announced on Wednesday.

Sineenat's royal titles and military rank have been restored. An order stating that she was blameless for past actions was signed by the king on Aug. 28. He also ordered that she be treated as if her title and ranks had never been rescinded. 

Sineenat became a chao khun phra, or royal noble consort, when the king turned 67 in July 2019, and was the first to be elevated to the position in about a century.

Three months later, she was abruptly stripped of her position. A palace order released on Oct. 2 stated that she had created confusion and obstructed both the nation and the monarchy by acting as if she were the queen. 

King Vajiralongkorn married Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant, a few days before his coronation in May 2019. Queen Suthida is believed to be the king's fourth wife and is his official consort. King Vajiralongkorn is the first Thai monarch to have more than one consort since his great grandfather King Chulalongkorn, who had four queens and many more consorts.  

According to an official biography released by the palace in 2019, Sineenat was born in 1985 in Nan province, about 500 km north of Bangkok. After graduating from the army nursing academy in 2008, and working as a nurse until 2012, she joined the Royal Household Bureau as a staff member, and worked for Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, as the king was then. 

Sineenat was later enlisted into the royal bodyguard corps, became an army colonel in 2015, and subsequently rose to the rank of major general. 

A taboo against open discussion of the monarchy was recently broken during student-led demonstrations. At one rally, a ten point reform program for the institution was read out. Protesters have also called for judicial and political reforms, and for an end to the military's domination of politics. 

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