BANGKOK – The whereabouts of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the noble consort of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, remained a mystery on Tuesday, a day after the palace stripped her of the royal and military titles.
Sineenat, who formally became a part of the Royal Household in July, was accused of “disloyalty” and being “ambitious” and “ungrateful” in a strongly-worded statement released by the Royal Gazette on Monday.
Thai media covered Sineenat’s fall from grace as first-page news on Tuesday, but maintained a largely neutral and official tone, while it was not known if she had accepted the decision.
Several people on Tuesday tweeted that they felt sorry for the woman and raised questions over her whereabouts under the hashtag #Savekoi, referring to the king’s companion by her pet-name.
Since Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne after the death of his father in October 2016, Thai people have increasingly taken to social media to criticize the controversial actions of the monarch.
The Thai lèse-majesté law, one of the toughest in the world, carries prison sentences and has resulted in self-censorship by the media, which tends to touch news related to the Royal Household with a velvet glove.
According to the official text released on Monday night, the former royal consort had conspired to grab the title of the queen before and after the king’s marriage with the current Queen Suthida, which took place in May, days before Vajiralongkorn’s coronation.
Sineenat’s appointment as the “Chao Khun Phra” (royal noble consort) was the first in almost a century, with the title having become obsolete in the 20th century, and came as a shock to the people.
Thai monarchs were known to be polygamous in the past but the practice stopped in the 20th century and was legally abolished in 1935.
At the end of August this year, Sineenat, 34, appeared in a series of photographs released by the Royal Household showing her with the king as well as flying aircraft and posing in military garb.
However, since Monday, these images and official biography of her have disappeared from the Royal website.
Apart from the title of the royal consort, the woman, a former nurse in a military hospital, was also stripped of her rank as a military general and her membership of the royal guards, apart from other honors.
Just three days after his coronation in May, Vajiralongkorn had married Suthida, a former flight attendant who had also been part of the special royal security corps, without prior notice to the public.
The king, known for spending long periods in Germany and for his fondness for flying airplanes, has seven children from his three former spouses, with all of his three previous marriages having ended in divorce.
The last of these separations caused a scandal as the parents, siblings and other relatives of his third wife Srirasmi were arrested for allegedly using the Royal Household’s influence for personal gains.
Since the divorce, which took place on November 2014, the whereabouts of the former princess, mother of Prince Dipangkorn, have also not been revealed officially.
Four sons of the king from his second marriage have been disinherited and live abroad along with their mother.
Vajiralongkorn, who has extended his powers and control over the finances of the Royal Household, has been unable to match the popularity enjoyed by his father, Bhumibhol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.
A procession of royal barges to mark the end of the coronation celebrations was set to take place on Tuesday but was postponed due to “strong currents” in the Chao Phraya river, according to the government.