Thailand names new queen ahead of King Maha Vajiralongkorn′s coronation | News | DW | 01.05.2019
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Thailand names new queen ahead of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's coronation

The Thai Royal Gazette named Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayutthaya as Thailand's queen just days before Maha Vajiralongkorn is due to formally accept the crown. Relationship rumors have circulated for years.

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Thai king marries official bodyguard and fourth wife

As Thailand prepares for the long-delayed coronation ceremony of Maha Vajiralongkorn, the nation's Royal Gazette on Wednesday announced that Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayutthaya was the new queen.

The publication confirmed that the 66-year-old king has married the 40-year old military officer, but it did not provide details or give the date of their wedding.

The Wednesday announcement is the first official recognition of the couple's relationship, although observers have speculated about romantic involvement between the two for several years. The relationship allegedly started while Maha Vajiralongkorn was still crown prince.

Suthida previously worked as a flight attendant for Thai Airways. In 2014, then-Prince Vajiralongkorn appointed her deputy commander of his bodyguards. After being declared king in 2016, Vajiralongkorn made her army general and deputy of the king's personal guard.

Maha Vajiralongkorn marches in the funeral procession for his father (Getty Images/AFP/L. Suwanrumpha)

King Vajiralongkorn took the throne after his popular father passed away in 2016

Read more: Will Thailand's new king be a unifying figure?

The news of the marriage and Suthida's royal status comes just days before Vajiralongkorn is expected to be formally crowned in a ceremony that starts Saturday. He is set to succeed his late father Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in 2016 after seven decades on the throne.

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Thailand mourns King Bhumibol

King Vajiralongkorn had been married and divorced three times before his marriage to Queen Suthida and has seven children with his previous wives.

Vajiralongkorn is believed to be the world's richest monarch after taking full ownership of the Crown Property Bureau last year, according to the Business Insider website. The bureau is believed to have at least $30 billion (€26.8 billion) in holdings.

dj/jm (dpa, Reuters)

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