The surprise announcement came a few days before the elaborate coronation ceremonies. In a note from the royal palace we read that King Vajiralongkorn “decided to promote General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya to the rank of his royal consort, who will now be known as Queen Suthida and will hold the royal title and status of a member of the royal family”.
The 66-year-old monarch ascended to the throne in 2016 after the death of his father Bhumibol Adulyadej, head of the monarchy for 70 years. He was married and then divorced three times and had seven children, the last born from the third marriage in 2014.
Suthida, a former flight attendant whom Vajiralongorn had appointed general and deputy head of his personal security, for many years was seen together with the king and considered his companion, but their relationship had never been formalised. The two live mainly in Germany, where Vajiralongkorn owns a $12 million villa in Monaco.
Meanwhile, the expectation for what is seen as a big party is growing in Bangkok. The devotion of the Thai people to the king is total. In every corner of the capital’s street you can feel the importance of the crown. The image of the king is everywhere, in the posters, on the streets, on the walls. An entire nation will stop today.