Human Interest

Thailand mum about princess’ condition 5 months on from accident

Bangkok, Jun 7 (EFE).- Thailand’s royal palace has maintained a deathly silence for five months about the health of Princess Bajrakitiyabha, first-born daughter of King Vajiralongkorn, who was hospitalized in mid-December over a serious heart problem.

Bajrakitiyabha, 44, seen as a possible heir to the throne, was admitted on Dec. 14 after losing consciousness while training her dogs for a dog competition in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, some 250 kilometers northeast of Bangkok.

The Royal House reported the mishap the following day but did not specify her condition until a few days later when it said she was “stable to some extent” needing artificial support for several vital organs, such as her heart, lungs and kidneys.

According to the latest statement published Jan. 7, the princess suddenly lost consciousness due to bacteria that affected her heart.

There has since been no information on the princess, for whom authorities organized mass prayers and offerings to wish her a speedy recovery in front of large portraits of her.

These acts, which took place in religious establishments countrywide, six months later seem to have subsided with no news about the visits of her father or her relatives to the Chulalongkorn hospital in Bangkok, where she remains.

Thailand has since celebrated normally, among other events, the Buddhist New Year festivities and a general election.

The lack of transparency about the state of Bajrakitiyabha is reminiscent of the scant information provided during the long periods that King Bhumibol, father of the current monarch and grandfather of the princess, spent in hospital. He died in October 2016 aged 88 after seven decades on the throne.

A draconian royal defamation law punishes anyone who defames, insults or threatens Thailand’s royal family with three to 15 years, leading to extensive self-censorship in the media when reporting on the Royal Household.

Bajrakitiyabha, born on Dec. 7, 1978, is the only child from King Vajiralongkorn’s first marriage to Princess Soamsawali – the current monarch’s first cousin – and from whom she divorced in 1991.

After her father’s ascension to the throne in 2016, Bajrakitiyabha took a more prominent role in the ceremonies and acts of the Royal House and on behalf of the country.

With a doctorate in law from the American University of Chicago and a degree in international relations, the princess, a lover of horse riding, was also trained in some of the most elite schools in her country and in England.

She has served as Thailand’s ambassador to Austria – between 2012 and 2014 – and has held various positions representing the country at the United Nations, among others at UN Women and more recently the UNODC. EFE


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