Thailand’s King and Queen attend Prince Mahidol Day celebrations – as protesters take to the streets


Thailand’s king and queen have attended celebrations at a hospital as crop-top-wearing protesters mocked his clothing and called for his power to be reduced.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok for Prince Mahidol Day – to commemorate his contribution to medical education.

The monarch, who spends much of his time in Europe, laid a wreath at the foot of his grandfather’s statue, local media said.

It is not clear if his mistress Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi, who was reinstated as his royal consort after being released from jail earlier this month, was at the event.

She has been given back her royal and military titles after she was previously accused of seeking to undermine the monarch’s official wife, the queen.

It comes as a thousand demonstrators rallied at parliament as it debated amending the constitution, one of the demands behind nearly two months daily protests.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok for Prince Mahidol Day – to commemorate his contribution to medical education

The monarch, who spends much of his time in Europe, laid a wreath at the foot of his grandfather's statue, local media said

The monarch, who spends much of his time in Europe, laid a wreath at the foot of his grandfather’s statue, local media said

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida are pictured at the wreath laying ceremony today

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida are pictured at the wreath laying ceremony today

King Maha Vachiralongkorn presides over the wreath laying ceremony on Mahidol day in memory of his grandfather who was considered the founding father of Thailand's modern medicine, at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok

King Maha Vachiralongkorn presides over the wreath laying ceremony on Mahidol day in memory of his grandfather who was considered the founding father of Thailand’s modern medicine, at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok

It is not clear if mistress Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi (pictured with the king last year), who was reinstated as royal consort after being let out of jail earlier this month, was at the event

It is not clear if mistress Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi (pictured with the king last year), who was reinstated as royal consort after being let out of jail earlier this month, was at the event

Protesters wore crop tops and sprayed a democracy plaque outside the building as they mocked the king for his clothing.

The two-day session of parliament was convened on Wednesday and was expected to vote late tonight on whether to accept a motion for constitutional changes.

But a lawmaker aligned with the government proposed the vote be postponed to November and a new committee be set up to study details around the process first.

The proposal was met with resistance from opposition parties and also angered the protesters.

Anon Nampa, one of the protest leaders, said: ‘Do you hear the people? Or is the building so thick?’

The protesters want to change a constitution they say was engineered to ensure ex-junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed on as prime minister after last year’s election.

A thousand demonstrators rallied at parliament as it debated amending the constitution, one of the demands behind nearly two months daily protests

A thousand demonstrators rallied at parliament as it debated amending the constitution, one of the demands behind nearly two months daily protests

Protesters wore crop tops (bottom right) and sprayed a democracy plaque outside the building as they mocked the king for his clothing

Protesters wore crop tops (bottom right) and sprayed a democracy plaque outside the building as they mocked the king for his clothing

The two-day session of parliament was convened on Wednesday and was expected to vote late tonight on whether to accept a motion for constitutional changes

The two-day session of parliament was convened on Wednesday and was expected to vote late tonight on whether to accept a motion for constitutional changes

Thai police attend to an injured anti-government protester inside the parliament compound after scaling the fence of parliament in Bangkok

Thai police attend to an injured anti-government protester inside the parliament compound after scaling the fence of parliament in Bangkok

They want his departure and some protesters also say the constitution gives too much power to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The biggest demonstration so far drew tens of thousands of people over the weekend.

The 2017 constitution was written by a military-appointed committee and passed a nationwide referendum in 2016 at which opposition campaigning was banned.

Prayuth said the 2019 election was fair.

On Wednesday, hundreds of royalist from the Thai Pakdee group marched to the parliament to submit a petition opposing constitutional change.

The assembly combines an elected lower House of Representatives and a military-appointed Senate.

The protesters want to change a constitution they say was engineered to ensure ex-junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed on as prime minister after last year's election

The protesters want to change a constitution they say was engineered to ensure ex-junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed on as prime minister after last year’s election

They want his departure and some protesters also say the constitution gives too much power to King Maha Vajiralongkorn

They want his departure and some protesters also say the constitution gives too much power to King Maha Vajiralongkorn

The biggest demonstration so far drew tens of thousands of people over the weekend. Pictured: Today's rally

The biggest demonstration so far drew tens of thousands of people over the weekend. Pictured: Today’s rally

A Thai protester ties white ribbons on the door of the Thai Parliament as thousands rallied at the gates

A Thai protester ties white ribbons on the door of the Thai Parliament as thousands rallied at the gates

Last July, Vajiralongkorn gave Sineenatra the royal consort title of chao khun phra sineenatra bilasakalayani, reviving an old palace tradition of taking a junior wife that had not been practiced for almost a century.

It came after he Vajiralongkorn named Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya his queen in May 2019 when they were married a few days before his formal coronation. 

Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years.

Then last October, less than three months after making Sineenatra his royal consort, the king issued a command rescinding the appointment.

In a statement, he accused her of misbehaving by actively seeking to block Suthida’s appointment as queen in order to take the position herself.

He said when she failed to block Suthida, her ‘ambitions and aspirations’ led her to continue to seek ways to promote herself.

That statement said the king tried to alleviate the problem by appointing Sineenatra his official royal consort but she remained unsatisfied and continued to compete.

Both Queen Suthida and Sineenatra have served as senior officers in palace security units.

Suthida was previously a flight attendant with Thai Airways, while Sineenatra was an army nurse.

The king has seven children by three previous marriages, all of which ended in divorce.  

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