The playboy Thai king has made history by making his mistress the country’s second queen, despite previously jailing her for ‘disrespecting’ the current queen.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, crowned Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi on Tuesday, her 36th birthday, Bild reported.
The pair wore matching blue coats as they released fish and birds in a Buddhist ceremony to mark the occasion at Wasukri pier in Bangkok.
It’s an astonishing rise for the king’s fifth wife who was thrown out of the palace and jailed for trying to block her rival Queen Suditha’s coronation in 2019.
Last month a trove of naked selfies of Sineenat were leaked online, revealing the bitter infighting which still rages at court among the king’s harem of mistresses.
Just three months prior to Sineenat’s imprisonment she had been appointed Vajiralongkorn’s royal consort – the first to hold the title in almost a century.
Until August last year, her whereabouts were unknown, rumoured to either be in jail or dead.
She was fully reinstated as his consort in September and the Royal Gazette declared that she ‘is not tarnished.’
Today the former nurse ascended to the pinnacle of courtly status in a deep humiliation for 42-year-old Queen Suditha.
It comes after a trove of naked selfies were leaked last month laying bare the resentment felt towards Sineenat.
Sineenat is seen as a ‘PR tool’ and her appointment as Thailand’s second queen comes at a tense political juncture for the king who has faced months of protests.
The people have demanded reform of the monarchy – unprecedented in Thailand where it is illegal to criticise the king – with thousands taking to the streets for months, in spite of the pandemic.
Prior to her expulsion from the court, Sineenat appeared frequently in photo shoots, flying in war planes, skydiving, shooting and others showing intimate moments with the king holding hands.
Royal experts believe her prominence in public life may have been the reason for 1,400 selfies being leaked to critics of Vajiralongkorn earlier this year.
Some showed her baring her unshaven armpits to the camera and others revealed ‘every single thing that you could imagine,’ according to one Thai activist.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a prominent royal critic based in Japan, told MailOnline how he received an anonymous envelope in August – just as reports first emerged that Sineenat was to be reinstated by the king.
In an unsigned letter to Pavin, the sender described the photos as top-secret files hacked from Sineenat’s phone after it was confiscated following her arrest in October 2019 and expulsion by King Vajiralongkorn.
‘It’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence,’ Pavin said, suggesting that the leak might have come from the Queen’s entourage.
Sineenat, a former royal bodyguard, was gifted the title of royal consort to mark the king’s 67th birthday last July.
It was the first time in nearly a century that a Thai monarch had taken a consort, after the king married his fourth wife Queen Suthida earlier in 2019.
Both Suthida, a former air hostess, and Sineenat have served as senior officers in palace security units.
But last October, less than three months after making Sineenat consort, the king issued a command rescinding the appointment.
In a statement, he accused her of misbehaving by actively seeking to block Suthida’s appointment as queen in order to take the position herself, and saying that when she failed to block Suthida, her ‘ambitions and aspirations’ led her to continue to seek ways to promote herself.
Then in August this year the Royal Gazette reported reported that Sineenat was not tainted by any wrongdoing, and the record should not show that she ever lost her privileges.
The king, who has seven children by three previous marriages, has faced renewed criticism this week over Thailand’s delayed vaccine rollout.
On Monday, the government announced it would start with 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to high-risk groups.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a prominent politician, has said the strategy relied too much on one company, Siam Bioscience, a firm under the holdings of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, which will manufacture the Astrazeneca vaccine locally for regional distribution.
Two leaders of an anti-government protest movement held a small demonstration on Monday to protest what they said was preferential treatment for the Siam Bioscience.
Siam Bioscience has declined to comment on that allegation. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday reiterated the agreement was above board.
Siam Bioscience on Monday said it was altering its manufacturing plan to pour all available resources into producing the coronavirus vaccine and meeting AstraZenca’s standards.