October 14, 2016 - 1:32 AM
A look at the most prominent members of the Thai royal family:
— KING BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ: The world's longest-reigning monarch, who died Thursday at age 88, was revered by his subjects as a demigod and father figure. He held no formal political power but was seen as an anchor of stability who has stepped to the forefront at crucial moments of Thai history. He was 18 when he was named king in 1946, and married Sirikit Kitiyakara, a beautiful Thai aristocrat he met initially in Paris, in 1950.
— QUEEN SIRIKIT: The 84-year-old queen charmed world leaders in her youth and earned the loyalty of her subjects from decades of work on behalf of the rural poor and the environment. Stories of her behind-the-scenes influence on Thailand's recent turbulent politics tarnished the semi-divine status she held in the eyes of many Thais. But older Thais still think fondly of the fairy-tale romance that led to the royal marriage in 1950. The ailing queen has been rarely seen in recent years. In a rare statement on her health in May 2016, the Royal Household Bureau said she has "insufficient blood in the brain," a condition that she had at least since 2012.
— CROWN PRINCE MAHA VAJIRALONGKORN. The 64-year-old designated heir to the throne is the king and queen's second child and only son. The prince's expected ascension is a subject of concern for many Thais since he lacks the popularity of his father. Vajiralongkorn has had to deny rumours of illegal activities, and his marital life — three successive wives and seven children — has been stormy. Vajiralongkorn went to England for secondary schooling before graduating from the Australian Military College in Duntroon in 1976. The crown prince notched more than 3,000 hours in jet fighters after military training courses in the United States. He is qualified in a wide range of aircraft ranging from helicopters to commercial passenger planes. He has held high ranks in the Thai army, navy and air force.
— PRINCESS SIRINDHORN: The most beloved royal after her father, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is commonly referred to as "Pra Thep" — or "Princess Angel" — an abbreviated version of her ceremonial title. The 61-year-old princess is often mistakenly referred to as the "Crown Princess," due in part to wishful thinking among Thais and vague language in Thailand's succession laws that have created speculation she could ascend to the throne. The king and queen's third child has a down-to-earth reputation despite her royal status. When taking field trips to rural Thailand, the princess is often spotted with a camera around her neck, scribbling in a notebook, in much the same way the king did in his younger, more active years. Sirindhorn has never married and does not have children.
— PRINCESS UBOLRATANA: The eldest child of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit was born on April 5, 1951, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the young king was studying at the time. She was raised in Thailand and engaged in several activities that the king enjoyed, including sailing. The father and daughter won a gold medal in a sailing competition at the Southeast Asian Games in 1967. Ubolratana graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 with a biochemistry degree. She married an American, Peter Ladd Jensen, and as a result was stripped of her royal title under palace law. They had three children but later divorced, and Ubolratana returned to Thailand and took part in royal duties. Her son, Poom Jensen, was lost in the 2004 tsunami. Her two daughters live in the U.S. The princess spearheaded an anti-drug campaign among Thai youth and hosts a TV talk show, giving advice to teenagers.
— PRINCESS CHULABHORN WALAILAK: The king and queen's youngest child was born July 4, 1957, in Bangkok. She has supported a variety of scientific work in the country and was awarded an Einstein Medal from UNESCO in 1986 for her efforts in promoting science. She has worked as a veterinarian at a university animal hospital. She had two daughters with an air force officer before they divorced in 1996. Princess Chulabhorn likes to play the guzheng, or Chinese zither, and is a fan of Chinese culture.
— PRINCESS BAJRAKITIYABHA: The first grandchild of the king and the queen, Princess Bajrakitiyabha or "Ong Pa" was born to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his first wife and cousin Princess Soamsawali on December 7, 1978. She went to Thammasat University in Bangkok, where she studied law, and received a doctoral degree at Cornell University in the U.S. She was appointed goodwill ambassador for U.N. women in 2008 and named the Thai ambassador to Austria in 2012. She later returned home to become a public prosecutor. Among other charity projects, the princess focused on working against violence against women and initiated a project that aims at improving the conditions for female inmates and their children in correctional facilities.
— PRINCESS SIRIVANNAVARI NARIRATANA: Born in 1987, Princess Sirivannavari is the youngest of five children born to the crown prince and his second wife. The princess's four brothers all migrated to the United States with their mother and do not have royal titles. Sirivanavari has interests in sports and fashion. She represented Thailand in badminton and equestrian events at regional sports competitions. She also studied fashion and textiles at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at Chulalongkorn University and studied couture at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. She has shown catwalk collections in Paris and Bangkok and has her own fashion clothing line "Sirivannavari." She is a regular at the Paris Fashion Week.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016