Thailand: Princess Ubolratana's PM campaign suspended after King's disapproval

Saul Bowman
February 11, 2019

While the king sits above politics, his comments are likely to weigh heavily on the minds of the country's election commission which must rule on whether Ubolratana can enter politics.

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich holds Princess Ubolratana's prime ministerial candidate application at the Election Commission office in Bangkok on February 8, 2019.

The party thanked the 67-year-old princess for her efforts, and said it would abide by election regulations and "tradition and royal customs" under Thailand's constitutional monarchy.

A Thai political party will prevent a princess from running for the prime minister position in March elections, it said on Saturday, marking a dramatic U-turn after it said it would nominate her for the position.

The nomination of a royal family member by pro-Thaksin forces was an audacious gambit, potentially undercutting Thaksin's ardently royalist foes, and setting up an election showdown with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup and heads the military government.

The March 24 election has been viewed as a straightforward battle between Thaksin's populists and their allies, on the one hand, and the royalist-military establishment on the other.

Both Mr Thaksin and his sister live in self-imposed exile but remain a powerful force in Thai politics, with many in the country remaining loyal to them.

Sputnik: According to some political analysts, Princess Ubolratana's nomination could bridge between the Bangkok-centred elites aligned with the military and rural-based populists sided with Thaksin.

On Friday morning, it was confirmation of Ubolratana's unprecedented candidacy that was the stunner, as the development grabbed headlines and saw footage of the 67-year-old, in recent times an actress, aired repeatedly on global news channels.

The candidacy would have broken with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

The party said that it accepted the King's command with full loyalty to the King and all members of the Royal Family.

Thai Raksa Chart is an off-shoot of the main pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party, whose government, led by Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from power in 2014 in a coup led by then-army chief Prayuth. In general, like most of the royal family, she publicly kept herself aloof from Thailand's recent political turmoil.

The Thai Raksa Chart party is allied to divisive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

It directly addressed the point that his sister was a member of the royal family even though her formal royal titles had been lifted decades ago when she married a foreigner.

Whether she approached her younger brother, now the Thai King, over the matter is a matter of speculation.

1951: Ubolratana is born in Lausanne, Switzerland, the first child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit while her father was studying science at the University of Lausanne.

"I am not aiming to extend my power but I am doing this for the benefit of the country and the people", he said.

Meanwhile, Ubolratana said on her Instagram page on Saturday that she sincerely wished to see the country step forward and be admired and recognized by the global community. The other two now also live in Thailand.

Ubolratana Rajaka, Princess of Thailand, attends "Thailand Hub of Entertainment", a film and entertainment industry event for investors, in Hong Kong.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article