Thai palace shares rare photos of king, newly named royal consort
This undated photo posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Thailand Royal Office website shows King Maha Vajiralongkorn, left, with Major General Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi, the royal noble consort. (Thailand Royal Office via AP)
The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, August 27, 2019 3:50AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 27, 2019 6:09AM EDT
BANGKOK -- Thailand's royal palace has released photos of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his recently anointed royal consort, though the official website hosting the images became inaccessible within a few hours.
The photos released Monday show the 67-year-old monarch and Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi in formal regalia as well as in casual settings. She was named Chao Khun Phra Sineenatra Bilasakalayani last month on the king's birthday, becoming the first to receive the title of royal noble consort since 1921, during an era of absolute monarchy.
The king married longtime companion Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya in May a few days before his coronation and named her his queen. Like Sineenatra, she has been serving as a senior officer in palace security units.
Vajiralongkorn was married three times previously, fathering seven children.
Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years. During his decades as crown prince, Vajiralongkorn's personal life was often the subject of hushed gossip, though public discussion was hampered by the country's harsh lese majeste law, which mandates prison terms of up to 15 years for those found guilty of insulting some members of the royal family.
Some of the new palace images show 34-year-old Sineenatra, who holds the army rank of major general, engaging in activities in uniform such as piloting a fighter jet, aiming a rifle on a firing range and preparing for what appears to be a night-time parachute jump.
Others show her and the king holding hands, unusually intimate photos for members of the royal family.
Unflattering unauthorized photos of the king and his consort taken by paparazzi in Germany, where the monarch maintains a residence, have circulated widely on social media. The most recent such pictures were published by the German tabloid Bild earlier this month.
Although there were no details accompanying Monday's official photos, the palace also posted a biography of Sineenatra, who was born in the northern province of Nan.
It said that after serving as an army nurse from 2008-2012, she joined the Royal Household Bureau, working at the palace's handicraft store. She later transferred to the offices of Vajiralongkorn, then the crown prince. Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Sineenatra was said to have undergone rigorous military training as well as taking flying lessons, and holds several positions in the palace bureaucracy.