Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has married his deputy head of security, just three days before his official coronation in a surprise wedding that will make his secret consort the queen of Thailand.
In a traditional ceremony on Wednesday, the bride, Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, wearing a salmon gown, shimmied down a short aisle on her belly to her waiting prince. She presented him with a tray of flowers and joss sticks that she lifted from the floor without making eye contact.
The king, 66, who will be officially crowned Saturday following the death of his father in 2016, anointed her head and gave her gifts associated with royal power.
The surprise ceremony will make Suthida the second commoner queen in Thailand’s long monarchy. Rumors that the two might be romantically linked were never confirmed by the palace. According to Thai law, insulting the monarchy is punishable by 15 years in prison, which makes idle gossip potentially felonious.
The two met when Suthida was a flight attendant for Thai Airways International, according to local press reports. She is believed to be 40 years old and will be the crown prince’s fourth wife. He has seven children from his previous three marriages.
Suthida rose through the ranks of the palace guard after Vajiralongkorn appointed her to his personal security detail in 2013, according to Thailand’s Royal Gazette. She was made a general in the Royal Thai Army in December 2016 and became the deputy head of the king’s security detail in 2017. She has received a number of honors and is regularly pictured in her general’s uniform at Vajiralongkorn’s side.
The king, now with his new queen, will be take part in an elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin coronation ceremony Saturday. They will then set off in a procession through the streets of Bangkok.