Everything you need to know about Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn

WION Bangkok, Thailand Oct 16, 2020, 08.42 PM(IST) Edited By: Gravitas desk

File photo of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Photograph:( AFP )

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Though he was officially named Crown Prince in 1972, aged 15, he actually spent much of his childhood outside Thailand

Thailand's royal family, compared to the constantly spotlighted British monarchy, is extremely secretive. 

The country has strict laws that forbid citizens and the Thai press from insulting and reporting on embarrassing details about the family.

From marrying his bodyguard to flying his own plane and and throwing a four-day funeral for his pet poodle, here's everything we know about Thailand's eccentric ruler.

Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn - his name means "adorned with jewels or thunderbolts" - was born on 28 July 1952, the first son and second child of Queen Sirikit and King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who had succeeded to the throne unexpectedly six years previously.

Though he was officially named Crown Prince in 1972, aged 15, he actually spent much of his childhood outside Thailand. He was sent to school in England from ages 13 to 17, before enrolling at military college in Australia until 1976.

Despite his military training, there were questions of whether the prince was fit to rule. Rumors of gambling, womanizing, and associating with illegal businesses reported plagued the prince's reputation.

A few years ago he had been photographed cycling in a crop top in Switzerland and Germany. When a photo of the king was posted on Facebook he threatened to sue the company , saying the images were insulting.

After his father passed away in October 2016, the prince ascended Thailand's throne and became King Rama X, the 10th monarch of his royal house.

He has been married four times and has 20 mistresses. He has assets worth 43 billion dollars under his control.

In October 2019, the king stripped his royal noble consort of her title, citing disloyalty. According to the royal palace's official statement, she was "ambitious," her behavior was "disrespectful," and she tried to "elevate herself to the same state as the queen.

Although Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, the king wields much power. He commands an estimated 5,000 troops in the royal guard.

Thousands of protesters turned up on the streets in Bangkok to denounce the government's move to invoke the emergency decree even as police made several arrests on Thursday.

Protesters want to reverse a 2017 increase in the king's constitutional powers, made the year after he succeeded his widely revered late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

 

Pro-democracy activists say Thailand is backtracking on the constitutional monarchy established when absolute royal rule ended in 1932. They say the monarchy is too close to the army and argue that this has undermined democracy.

Protesters also seek the scrapping of lese majeste laws against insulting the king. They want the king to relinquish the personal control he took over a palace fortune estimated in the tens of billions of dollars, and some units of the army.