Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 67, was nominated as candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party, aligned to divisive ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Such a move is unprecedented for the Thai royal family, who traditionally stay out of politics. But her brother King Vajiralongkorn has denounced the move as “inappropriate”, unravelling plans before they could even begin.
In a statement broadcast on all Thai TV networks, the King said: “Involvement of a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is considered an act that defies the nation’s traditions, customs and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate.”
Thai Raksa Chart responded by saying it would comply with the King’s wishes and “with the royal command with loyalty to the King and all members of the royal family”.
The Princess responded to the King’s announcement with a statement on social media thanking Thais for their support.
He added she wanted Thailand to “move forward and become admired and accepted by the international community”.
Who is Princess Ubolratana Mahidol?
Born in 1951, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the oldest child of Thailand’s beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.
She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after marrying an American in 1972, she gave up her royal title.
After her divorce, she returned to Thailand in 2001 and once again started participating in royal life.
The princess engages actively in social media and has also starred in several Thai movies.
She has three children, one of whom died in the 2004 tsunami.
The princess had registered for the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is loyal to the controversial Shinawatra family who have dominated Thai politics for years.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Princess Ubolratana reiterated she had relinquished all her royal titles and that she now lives as a commoner.
She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister.
She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.
Why are these elections important?
The March 24 elections will be the first since current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha took power in 2014, overthrowing the democratic government and ousting ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of Mr Shinawatra.
Both Mr Thaksin and his sister live in self-imposed exile but remain a powerful force in Thai politics, with many in the country remaining loyal to them.
In 2016, Thais voted to approve a new constitution created by the country’s military leaders, which was designed to perpetuate military influence and block Mr Thaksin’s allies from winning another election.
But the princess aligning herself with a party allied with Mr Thaksin threatened those plans, correspondents say.