Thai palace website crashes after rare images of king's royal consort published
Thailand’s palace website crashed on Monday after it released unprecedented pictures of the king’s consort in a fighter jet, wearing a crop top and dressed in combat fatigues with him and the royal poodle.
The unusually candid pictures of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s consort, 34-year-old Major-General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, were released along with her official biography. The publication of the more than 60 photos and 46-page biography was dated last week, but did not start circulating online until Monday.
A palace official said the website was being fixed because of the volume of traffic. The palace has a policy of not commenting to media.
The king named Sineenat as Royal Noble Consort on his 67th birthday last month. It was the first such appointment in almost a century, long before the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.
Suprising glimpse into royal's private lives
The images and details provide an unusually intimate glimpse into the private lives of the powerful, ultra-wealthy and inscrutable monarchy, which is protected by a royal insult law that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison per count.
Born in the northern province of Nan, she graduated from the Royal Thai Army Nursing College, trained as a pilot in Thailand and abroad, and served in the king’s royal bodyguard unit, reaching the rank of major-general in May.
Some of the pictures are in the usual royal tradition, with Sineenat wearing Thai dress and sitting at the king’s feet.
But she is also pictured in the cockpit of a fighter jet and wearing a grey camouflage pattern crop-top at the controls of a light aircraft. Some pictures show Sineenat and the king holding hands while one shows them both in green combat fatigues with the royal pet dog.
New king crowned in May
A cycling and aviation enthusiast who spends much of his time abroad in Germany, Vajiralongkorn was crowned in May in an elaborate three-day ceremony that Sineenat participated in.
The ceremony took place mere days after a stunning announcement that Vajiralongkorn had married Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya, 41, a former flight attendant and deputy commander of the monarch’s security detail.
Suthida is the fourth wife of the monarch, who has a teenage son from his third marriage and six other children.
The king is not as well-known to the public as his beloved father Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.
In the run-up to his coronation the billboards and government offices were peppered with large imposing portraits of Vajiralongkorn.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)