King has made his mistress a royal consort in a ceremony attended by his new wife, marking the first time the country’s modern monarchy has publicly admitted to polygamy.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, made his former bodyguard Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, 34, his chao khun phra (royal noble consort) in a ceremony on his 67th birthday.
Queen Suthida was sitting next to him throughout the unusual ceremony and showed no emotion despite the fact she now has an official rival for the King’s attention.
He poured ceremonial water over Ms Sineenat’s head to officially anoint her a concubine during a televised service on Sunday.
During the service she lay on the floor to remain lower than the King’s feet, in accordance Thai royal tradition.
The move marks the first time a Thai king has publicly had more than one partner since an absolute monarch ruled the country in 1932.
Major General Sineenat was also given four medals, such as ‘most noble order of the crown of Thailand’ and ‘most exalted order of the white elephant, special class’, as well as being lauded for her time as a senior officer in the King’s bodyguard team the Ratchawallop Police Retainers.
Ms Sineenat, who is known as Koi but used to be called Niramon Ounprom, was formerly a nurse at the Ananda Mahidol army hospital.
The announcement of her as royal consort has faced no public criticism in Thailand as under lèse-majesté laws those who offend the crown can get up to 15 years in prison.
Yet in private it is understood many Thais see the King as eccentric and possibly immoral.
The news comes less than three months after the King married another former consort, Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya, who had been a Thai Airways flight attendant.
Photos from their wedding at the start of May showed Ms Suthida lying on the floor as she was given a gift by the King.
She ‘legally married’ the King in accordance with royal traditions, an announcement in the Royal Gazette said on May 1, with a statement from the royal family explaining the King had decided to promote General Suthida to become Queen Suthida.
The statement added at the time that ‘she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family’.
It was also explained that the monarch had ‘performed a royal wedding ceremony with General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Aydhaya in accordance to law and royal traditions in a full and righteous manner’, which explains why the bride had to lay at her husband’s feet.
Thai royal traditions dictate that the ruling King is to be regarded as god-like and semi-divine, and as a result, he must sit higher than everyone else.
This is to the point that during official ceremonies and speeches his feet should be elevated above everyone else’s heads.