The King of Thailand has reinstated his royal wife in the post, nearly a year after being stripped of her titles in a dramatic fall from grace.
King Vajiralongkorn returned the rank and titles of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi on Wednesday, the Royal Gazette reported.
Sineenat was stripped of her rank in October 2019, just months after being made the king’s companion.
The palace had said that she was being punished for attempting to rise to “the same state as the queen”.
Sineenat was the first royal wife for almost a century in Thailand, where the term refers to a partner in addition to the king’s wife.
Last year’s announcement also accused her of “misconduct and disloyalty to the monarch.” She has not been seen in public since and her whereabouts have not been confirmed.
The King’s latest ruling means that “Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi is not tarnished,” the Royal Gazette reported.
“From now on, it will be as if she has never been stripped of her military ranks or royal decorations. ”
Born in 1985, she is originally from northern Thailand and worked as a nurse before forming a relationship with then-crown prince Vajiralongkorn.
She eventually became a bodyguard, pilot and parachutist, and joined the Royal Guards. In early 2019, she was appointed major-general.
She was given the official title of First Royal Noble Consort in July of that year, shortly after the King married his fourth wife, Queen Suthida, who had been the deputy director of his personal security service.
A few months later, in October, Sineenat was unexpectedly stripped of her rank and titles, sparking much speculation about what could have caused the sudden downfall.
The real cause for her removal – and subsequent reinstatement – as royal bride may never be made public, given the secrecy that covers palace affairs in Thailand.
Thai lèse majesté law prohibits criticism of the monarchy, with heavy prison sentences for offenders.
The dismissal of Sineenat in 2019 echoes the case of two of the king’s ex-wives. In 1996, he denounced his second wife, who fled to the United States, and denied four sons he had with her.
In 2014, his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee was also stripped of all her titles and banished from the royal court. Her 15-year-old son was raised by King Vajiralongkorn in Germany and Switzerland.
The king, who now spends most of his time in Germany, has a total of seven children.
Queen Suthida, a former Thai Airways flight attendant, had been seen with him in public for many years, although their relationship was never officially recognized until his marriage.
Even after the wedding, his wife Sineenat was a regular guest at royal events until her fall.
Thai kings throughout the centuries have taken several wives – or wives. But until 2019, the last time a Thai king took an official spouse was in the 1920s, and the title had not been used since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Wednesday’s palace announcement comes amid anti-government protests in Thailand, where the military has entrenched political power after a 2014 coup. The protests include demands to reduce the king’s recently expanded powers. and unprecedented calls have been made to reform the monarchy.
Protesters challenged the king’s decision to declare Crown wealth as his personal property, making him by far the richest person in Thailand. Until now, it was theoretically held in trust for the benefit of the people.
There have also been questions about King Vajiralongkorn’s decision to take personal command of all Bangkok-based military units – a concentration of military power in royal hands unprecedented in modern Thailand.
The king ascended to the throne after the death of his beloved father Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016. King Bhumibol had ruled for 70 years, making him the longest reigning monarch in the world at the time of his death.