Speed Reads

bizarre love triangle

Thai king formally ousts his 'junior wife' for allegedly seeking to undermine his queen

In May, right before his coronation, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn married his fourth wife, Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, making her queen. Then in July, he revived an old royal tradition and made 34-year-old Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi his royal consort, or junior wife. On Monday, the king officially stripped Sineenatra of her royal titles, decorations, status as a senior member of the royal guard, and her military ranks, accusing her of "misbehavior and disloyalty" and "ambitions" to undermine and "elevate herself to the same state as the queen."

The royal command published Monday said that King Vajiralongkorn, 67, had given Sineeatra "a royal consort position, in hopes of relieving the pressure and a problem that could affect the monarchy," after she had "shown resistance and pressure in every manner to stop the appointment of the queen" ahead of May's coronation. After she failed to become queen herself, the announcement said, Sineenatra had acted above her station and given orders inappropriately and in a manner "dishonorable, lacking gratitude, unappreciative of royal kindness."

Sineeatra and Suthida, 41, were both longtime companions to King Vajiralongkorn, whose third marriage ended in divorce in 2014, two years before his father died, elevating him to the throne. Vajiralongkorn had also stripped that wife of her titles and banished her from court.

Sineeatra, a nurse and major-general in the armed forces, was the first royal consort since King Vajiravudh's reign ended with his death in 1925, though the practice of taking consorts was fairly common in the 19th century. The current king's personal life was subject to quiet rumors during his decades as crown prince, though they remained hushed because Thailand's strict lese majeste law makes insulting members of the royal family a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.