One step forward ...

Thai princess’ bid for political power scuttled as party obeys king’s command

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya of Thailand attends the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 15, 2008 in France. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

A bid by Thailand’s Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi to become her country’s prime minister has been thwarted by her own party, after receiving a royal command from her brother, the king.

In a dramatic, but not entirely unanticipated, reversal, the Thai Raksa Chart party issued a succinct statement announcing that they were complying with a royal command to block her candidacy.

The statement added that the party was ready to do its duty with respect to the “tradition and royal customs” under Thailand’s constitutional monarchy.

The princess rocked Thai politics on Friday, when she announced she would be the prime ministerial candidate for the populist party, that hopes to unseat sitting prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Prayuth was head of the army when he led a 2014 coup against ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to whom the Thai Raksa Chart remains loyal. The election on March 24 is the first since the 2014 coup.

“I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by international countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all,” Ubolratana had said, on her Instagram account, when she announced her candidacy.

Her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, issued a statement late on Friday, saying his elder sister’s candidacy was “inappropriate” and that it was against the spirit of the constitution for royalty to be involved in politics.

Customarily under the Thai constitutional monarchy system, royals recuse themselves from politics. But the status of Ubolratana falls into a gray area since she had her highest royal titles taken from her by her father in 1972 after she married a fellow student, American Peter Ladd Jensen, who she met while at school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I have relinquished my royal titles and lived as a commoner,” she said in an Instagram post announcing her decision to run.

Since her return to Thailand from the U.S. in the late 1990s, Ubolratana has found success as an actress, TV hostess, and anti-drug campaigner.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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