Thai Queen Suthida, wife of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, was finally spotted in public after months of absence and speculations about her whereabouts, the Daily Star reports, following a “nude” scandal that saw over a thousand of private photos of second royal consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi being leaked online.
The leakage of some “very explicit” images of the King’s mistress was seen by many as an attempt to sabotage Sineenat’s position within the court and publicly humiliate the woman following her return to high-profile “royal consort” status last year. Many journalists linked the scandal to internal rivalry between Queen Suthida and mistress Koi – as Sineenat is often nicknamed.
And then Queen Suthida disappeared from public sight.
According to the Daily Star, she was last spotted in person on 28 December but was nowhere to be seen during Sineenat’s 36th birthday celebration in January.
German tabloid Bild suggests that the occasion also marked Sineenat’s coronation as Thailand's second queen, as the king and the consort were spotted wearing matching blue coats during a performance of Buddhist rituals.
But Queen Suthida has now reportedly re-emerged in public, as she was photographed alongside her King husband during a Chinese New Year celebration last week, the Daily Star claims.
It’s very difficult to say anything with confidence about what is going on in the Thai palace apart from bits of information officially released to the media, as Thailand heavily punishes any criticisms of the royal family with prison sentences.
What is known with some degree of certainty is that Sineenat, born Niramon Ounprom, was promoted to the status of royal concubine in July 2019, shortly after King Maha Vajiralongkorn married former flight attendant Suthida Tidjai. It was the monarch’s fourth marriage, but the first time he granted a mistress the high royal status of consort.
Three months later, however, Sineenat was stripped of all her titles and ranks, including Major General. The palace stated that she was “disloyal” to the royal family and displayed “disobedience against the king and the queen” with “ambition” to match the status of Queen Suthida.
Sineenat was purged from the court and reportedly sent to jail.
But Koi raised many eyebrows again when she made her way back to the court in the end of summer 2020, as the palace announced that all her titles will be resorted and no record would reflect that she has ever been out of favour.
That was a time where nearly 1,500 private photos showing Sineenat in quite compromising positions, some topless or in her night gowns, were sent to foreign journalists or leaked online. The palace has mainly ignored the scandal in the media as Koi eventually assumed some of the roles traditionally enjoyed by the queen, leading to even further speculations about her status in the royal family.
According to ex-Thai diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun, "Sineenat has got a hold of the King's heart."