In a political shocker, Thailand’s Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya will run for Thai Prime Minister. The Thai Raksa Chart party officially nominated her Friday. Ubolratana accepted the nomination while reminding media that she is now merely a citizen. She relinquished her official royal title in 1972 after marrying a U.S. citizen and moving to America. However, the Thai people pay no attention to such technicalities. They have always viewed her as royalty being the daughter of the beloved, late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. She divorced in 1998 and returned to Thailand permanently in 2001. Her Royal Highness now holds the title of ‘Tunkramom Ying’, or Daughter to the Queen Regent.
The move drastically changes the entire landscape of Thai politics. Previously, current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha looked to have an easy path to winning the election. Prayut heads the military junta, officially named the National Council for Peace and Order. He is also the official nominee for the Palang Pracharat party. The official announcement of Prayut entering the race came just minutes after Ubolratana’s huge statement. However, now all has changed with just one move. The news is so shocking due to the fact that the Royal Family has never entered politics since the dissolution of the absolute monarchy in 1932. Any other possible candidates are now unlikely to join the race as none would dare compete against royalty. Even Prayut’s campaign should now be quieter so as not to appear to disrespect the royal family.
Yet, with the talk of the implications of royalty entering an election, it should be noted that Princess Ubolratana is known for breaking against her lineage. She was willing to give up her title decades ago to marry a foreigner and leave the country. More recently, Ubolratana is on record as saying she would rather hear Thai people say ‘Long Live Slender’ (a reference to her appearance) than ‘Long Live your Highness.’ As the most approachable of all Thai royalty, she seems to relish more in her role as a celebrity than as a princess. Upon returning to Thailand, she has starred in movies, released songs, and is active on social media. Videos of her singing can be found on YouTube such as this one, Princess Ubolratana performs “BNK 48”.
Her Royal Highness became interested in politics after touring the country to view the poverty so prevalent outside of Bangkok. Her interests include helping the poor and ending teen drug use. Ubolratana is extremely popular in Northeast Thailand (Isaan) where poverty and drug problems hit the hardest. The Western world should view a reign as Prime Minister to be friendly. While living in the U.S., she would still promote tourism to Thailand, even vying for movie producers to come film in the country. Thai women look up to her for choosing love with a farang (white foreigner). A practice many Thai families see as good luck, and that Thai women find very desirable.
It is difficult to see any other ending than Princess Ubolratana now becoming Prime Minister. Thai society view the royalty as being above elected officials. For a member to take a step down into politics is a complete game-changer. With her backing as a member of royalty and forward thinking ideas, Thailand looks to soon modernize. Expect some of her future moves as Prime Minister to target poverty, attack drug addiction, and further focus on tourism. Furthermore, expect Princess Ubolratana to become the most popular figure in Thailand. As a celebrity prior to her run for office, the Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana is on the fast-track to achieve status as legendary as King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
- Update (2/08/19, 11:45am) – King Maha Vajiralongkorn has just denounced his sister’s bid to join race for Prime Minister. While it is still up to the Election Commission to determine her eligibility, the announcement is a blow to Ubolratana. As King, his word will hold much weight in regards to the matter. In what was already an unprecedented matter, the story continues to evolve quickly. Will Ubolratana challenge her brother’s statement? Does the Election Commission give in to the King? Stay tuned!