- King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand married his personal bodyguard and longtime partner on Wednesday.
- The wedding took the country by surprise because the royal palace had never acknowledged the couple’s relationship.
- Footage of the ceremony showed Gen. Suthida Tidjai, now known as Queen Suthida, bowing before the king before signing marriage documents in an ornate room filled with gold.
- Suthida was also seen having sacred water poured on her head, the BBC reported.
- Before joining Vajiralongkorn’s security detail, Suthida worked as a flight attendant on Thai Airways. She later became a general in Thailand’s army.
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The king of Thailand married one of his personal bodyguards and promoted her to queen in a lavish surprise ceremony on Wednesday.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, married Gen. Suthida Tidjai, 40, the deputy head of his security detail and long-term partner, the Thai royal family said in a statement.
The wedding was a surprise because the palace had never acknowledged the couple’s relationship, Reuters reported.
Vajiralongkorn – who inherited the throne after his father, King Bhumibol, died in 2016 – is also known as King Rama X, signalling that he is the 10th monarch of the royal house of Chakri.
The marriage took place lawfully and in the righteous royal tradition, the statement said. The general will now be known as Queen Suthida.
The king “has decided to promote General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, his royal consort, to become Queen Suthida and she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family,” the statement said, according to BBC and CNN translations.
The ceremony took place in Bangkok in the Ampornsathan Throne Hall, a large room filled with ornate mirrors, statuettes, and a golden shrine.
Footage of the wedding showed Suthida kneeling and bowing to the king alongside other attendees, before sitting on the throne beside him to sign marriage documents. As part of the ceremony, the king poured sacred water on Suthida’s head, the BBC reported.
The surprise marriage came three days before Vajiralongkorn’s long-awaited official coronation, which is this Saturday to Monday.
The coronation is taking place three years after Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne because the country went through a mourning period for King Bhumibol, whose royal cremation was in 2017,The Guardian reported. The newspaper said the coronation is expected to cost at least $US30 million.
Thailand is extraordinarily reverent to its monarch, and people can be imprisoned for up to 15 years if they are found to have insulted the monarchy.
The country’s strict lèse-majesté laws forbid people to insult, defame, or threaten any member of the royal family. Suthida is now protected by those laws.
Before joining then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s bodyguard unit in 2013, Suthida worked as a flight attendant for Thai Airways.
In December 2016, shortly after ascending the throne, Vajiralongkorn made her a full general in the Royal Thai Army.
This is Vajiralongkorn’s fourth marriage. He has been divorced three times and has seven children.
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