Across Thailand in recent days, a series of activities and prayers are being held to wish their Princess Bha a speedy recovery, after she collapsed last week and is receiving special treatment for her illness. hospital in Bangkok.
Considered a good candidate for the position of military reserve, the health of the princess is causing many people to worry about the future of the Thai royal family, according to the Thai newspaper. Prachatai.
Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol (44 years old) – commonly known as Princess Bha – on December 14 suddenly collapsed and lost consciousness during a dog training session in a northeastern province.
She was airlifted to Bangkok for further special treatment after receiving initial treatment locally.
Princess Bajrakitiyabha presides over the donation of royal medical equipment to a prison in Phitsanulok province, photo released on March 2, 2020. Brother: Thai Ministry of Justice.
The palace’s initial statement about the princess’s health was vague, sparking a flurry of rumors online.
Five days later, the new palace informed again of her condition. They said the princess was stable “to a certain extent” but had to intervene to control her heart rate. She is also on medication and medical equipment to support her lungs and kidneys.
More details about her illness have yet to be released.
On the same day, December 19, a number of Thai courts asked to limit the celebration of the New Year and instead pray for the recovery of the princess.
The “most likely” successor
Princess Bha – the eldest daughter of King Vajiralongkorn – is considered an important figure in the palace, holding the role of commander of the royal bodyguard unit and often appearing at events.
While King Vajiralongkorn has six other children, only two of them hold royal titles.
Princess Bajrakitiyabha gives a lecture on Thai law to a group of students in Rayong province, March 14, 2021. Photo: Royal Thai Office.
As a teenager, Princess Bha attended Heathfield School, a prestigious girls’ school in England, before earning two diplomas at Cornell University.
She served as Thailand’s ambassador to Austria, and went on to become a guarantor of rights for Thai female prisoners.
Given the role of Princess Bha, the lack of information about her is causing anxiety about the future of the royal family. Although the king has yet to officially appoint a successor, the princess has been viewed by observers of the Thai monarchy as the most likely candidate.
“At the moment, there is no designated heir, but most of the public theorizes that Princess Bha will be the next successor,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai scholar working in China. Kyoto University’s Southeast Asia Center, wrote on Facebook.
Princess Bha was born in 1978, to King Vajiralongkorn – then a crown prince – and Princess Soamsawali, also his cousin. Although the couple divorced in 1991, Princess Soamsawali remains a key member of the royal family.
She still often appears at important royal events and performs royal duties with her daughter, such as the recent exhibition for the charity they founded together.
Her mother’s background sets Princess Bha apart from her half-siblings who also have royal titles of Princess Sirivannavari (born 1987) and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti (born 2005).
Princess Sirivannavari’s mother, Sujarinee, was stripped of her royal title in 1996 following accusations that she embezzled palace funds and acted inappropriately with an official.
Princess Bha visits an exhibition at Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, November 10, 2020. Photo: Royal Thai Office.
Meanwhile, several members of Prince Dipangkorn’s maternal side were arrested in 2015 for allegedly running criminal organizations and abusing ties with the royal family for financial gain. The king divorced the prince’s mother and stripped her of her royal title.
Although Ms. Sujarinee and the king have four sons together, these are believed to be residing abroad as commoners and have no plans to return to Thailand.
Law and people support
Princess Bha has also in recent years built an image befitting a benevolent ruler. The wide range of roles the princess took on included legal reform, the welfare of female prisoners, and prison reform.
Graduating from Cornell University with a law degree, Princess Bah became a prosecutor in Eastern Thailand. In early 2021, she was awarded the rank of general by the king and was appointed to command the elite royal guard.
That same year, the princess surprised the public by shedding her long hair and wearing a military hairstyle favored by female royal bodyguards. This change is seen by many as an expression of her dedication to her new role, as well as a manifestation of her deep personal connection to the king.
Although Thailand has never had a woman designated as heir to the throne, the law seems to be on her side.
Constitutional amendments were adopted in 1978 and adopted in all subsequent charters, confirming the authority of the ruling monarch to appoint a successor regardless of male or female.
Princess Bha lights candles during the Lunar New Year celebration at the palace in Bangkok. Photo taken from the newsletter of the Royal Thai Office broadcast on February 12, 2021.
Summing up the possible succession of Princess Bha, Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a former Reuters reporter who covers the Thai royal family, affirmed that “Bajrakitiyabha remains a strong candidate”.
“She has the support of the wider royal family, her mother is still a senior member of the royal family,” Marshall, who lives in the UK, wrote on his personal blog.
“The fact that she is a woman does not seem to be a major obstacle in the 21st century, because changes to the constitution since 1974 show the palace accepting that in the modern world there is no reason to just there is a male king”.
An unnamed government official said that the princess’s achievements have earned her a positive reputation. “Basically, considering all the options, she’s the most logical choice,” the person said.