Thai King dismisses six palace officials for misconduct

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand’s Ki-ng Maha Vajiralongkorn has dismissed six palace staffers, just days after stripping his royal consort of her titles and military ranks for what he term-ed disloyalty.

The six palace officials were dismissed and stripped of their ranks and royal decorations on Wednesday, according to a statement from the palace.

The most senior of them is police Lieutenant General Sakolket Chantra.

Sakolket Chantra worked with the Royal Household Bureau and sometimes represented the palace in public events.

He was accused of “evil” actions – an expression that means serious misconduct – indiscipline and exploiting his job for personal gain, the statement said. The others, attached to palace guard units, were similarly accused.

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn. PHOTO: AP

The ousted consort, Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi, had been a senior officer in a palace security unit. She was stripped on Monday of her positions and decorations for actions undermining the position of Queen Suthida, the king’s official wife, for her own benefit.

The palace accused her of coveting the queen’s privileges, and not stopping her scheming even after being granted in July the prestigious title of Royal Noble Consort. It has been almost a century since a Thai king has had a formally designated consort. Sineenatra’s whereabouts are not known. Although not publicly stated, the timing and circumstances suggested that some of the officials’ dismissals were related to the consort’s ouster.

One of the officers served in the same security unit as Sineenatra, and another was a certified nurse working as a royal page in the royal chamber, the same profession the consort pursued before coming to the palace.

Queen Suthida is the king’s fourth wife, after three previous marriages ended in divorce. The breakup with former consort Sineenatra recalls Vajiralongkorn’s 2014 falling out with his third wife, Srirasmi Suwadee, when he was still crown prince.

In that case, several relatives were arrested shortly before the split-up was announced. Her parents were arrested for abusing their royal connection, and an uncle who was a senior policeman was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for corruption.