Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand will take over the role of the new monarch in the wake of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death.
King Bhumibol, who was the world’s longest reigning monarch, had served as head of state for 70 years.
However, the announcement of Vajiralongkorn’s succession may not be accepted as welcomingly by Thai citizens. “In a society that attaches celestial importance to the throne and largely views the monarchy as a force preserving Thai culture and values, the prince is thus seen as exceedingly unfit for kingship,” Strategic Forecasting, Inc. wrote in a 2015 analysis of the political situation.
Maha Vajiralongkorn: Crown Prince to succeed King Bhumibol Adulyadej as new monarch
Vajiralongkorn’s succession was announced by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha in a broadcast on all Thai television channels soon after the king’s death. The prime minister added the National Legislative Assembly will be informed about the succession; the same will be carried out according to the laws of succession as prescribed in the constitution.
Sixty-four-year-old Vajiralongkorn has been referred in international media as a “playboy with a penchant for partying,” as noted by the International Business Times. The media outlet reports that Vajiralongkorn has been married thrice.
In his first marriage he had five kids with a mistress, who would later become his second wife. Following the breakup, she took their daughter with her and left the country. However, Vajiralongkorn abducted the princess. With his most recent divorce in 2014, the The Guardian notes he plans to marry a former Thai Airlines flight attendant.
Maha Vajiralongkorn: Served in the Royal Thai Armed Forces
As the only child of King Bhumibol, Vajiralongkorn served in the Royal Thai Armed Forces, according to his bio on the Royal Thai Embassy Singapore website; he is credited for creating a chain of hospitals and working with farmers to improve agriculture in the country.
Nevertheless, his links with Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is facing allegations of corruption, is what many fear may result in the new king adopting Shinawatra’s stances.
The demise of 88-year-old King Bhumibol was announced by Thailand’s Royal Palace, the Asian Correspondent notes. He had been hospitalized in Bangkok for about a week.
“Unlike the revered King Bhumibol, Vajiralongkorn is widely disliked by the general public — and hated by those who know him,” Jonathan Manthorpe wrote in an iPolitics column. “The palace and its loyalists among Thailand’s class-conscious elite fear that if Vajiralongkorn comes to the throne, he will usher in a period of revolutionary upheaval that could destroy the structure of Thai society.”