Thai princess hospitalised after collapsing while training pet dogs

She is widely regarded to be the next in line to the Thai throne.

Yen Zhi Yi | December 16, 2022, 03:17 PM

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Thai Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati, who is the eldest daughter of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has been hospitalised after losing consciousness on Dec. 14 as due to a heart problem.

Her condition has since stabilised at a certain level, Thailand’s Royal Household Bureau said on Dec. 15, according to the Bangkok Post.

Rushed to hospital due to heart problems

Bajrakitiyabha, 44, passed out in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province at 6.20pm and was immediately rushed to the district’s Pakchongnana Hospital to receive initial treatment under the advice of palace doctors, Bangkok Post reported.

She was then transported via helicopter back to Bangkok’s King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital after her condition stabilised.

Thai PBS World also reported that the princess was suffering from heart-related symptoms. The statement from Royal Household Bureau said that doctors will be conducting a thorough examination and treating the princess accordingly.

According to the Bangkok Post and the official statement, the princess was training her pet dogs to take part in the Thailand Working Dog Championship, a working dog championship held by the army which was held from Dec. 10 to Dec. 19.

Who is Princess Bajrakitiyabha?

Bajrakitiyabha is one of the three children of King Vajiralongkorn who have been bestowed formal titles, making her eligible for ascendancy to the throne.

She is the only one out of the seven children born to the king's first wife, Princess Soamsawali. She is also perceived to be second in line for the throne, coming after her 17-year-old half-brother Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, according to The Sydney Morning Herald

Reuters also reported that Vajiralongkorn has yet to formally designate an heir and there is no official discussion if the princess would be taking the throne.

Although the 1924 Palace Law of Succession stipulates that there should be a male heir, an amendment was introduced in the constitution in 1974, allowing for a princess to be appointed as a successor if the king had not yet named an heir.

Bajrakitiyabha holds an academic background in law and international relations. She has also been posted to the United Nations and as Thailand’s ambassador to Austria. In February 2021, she was bestowed with the rank of general and appointed chief of staff for Thailand’s Royal Security Command.

Why is the Thai princess important?

The Thai monarchy's turbulent succession stories, as well as Vajiralongkorn's several marriages, had put the question of throne succession into mystery.

Bajrakitiyabha holds the most impeccable lineage among all the king’s children because she was born to a woman from the Thai royal lineage. Her main supporter was her grandmother, Queen Sirikit, who was the world’s longest-serving queen consort and was influential in the Thai royal family.

However, if the Thai monarchy chooses to follow established succession traditions, Dipangkorn will be the next monarch instead as he is the heir presumptive, and the only son not banished from the royal family.

After Vajiralongkorn’s ascension to the throne in 2016, officials and soldiers apparently began donning badges with the prince's face. These badges were supposedly given out by the king himself to those most loyal to him.

Yet, Vajiralongkorn had previously divorced Dipangkorn’s mother, Srirasmi Suwadee, in December 2014, making the prince’s position in the line of succession uncertain. Furthermore, it was speculated that Dipangkorn has developmental problems. His mother had also been stripped of royal titles and put under house arrest.

As a result, the Thai royal family could be caught in a predicament of having no credible pathways to maintain power if Bajrakitiyabha is unable to succeed the throne, due to the monarchy’s waning political influence after the death of the previous King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The princess is allegedly regarded as the most accomplished and well-trained candidate to succeed her father’s throne.

Wishing the princess well

Well-wishers were at the hospital where Bajrakitiyabha was warded in to write messages and give flowers, Bangkok Post reported. Some others, such as Thai actress Sinjai Plengpanich, have taken to social media to wish the princess well.

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A post shared by Sinjai Plengpanich (@noksinjai)

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A post shared by Bussakorn Wongpuapan (@kun_jun)

Rumours about the princess having already passed away, however, have been circulating online, casting doubt on her status.

Thailand has some of the world's strictest lese majeste laws. Under Article 112, defaming or criticising the royal family can result in a jail term of three to 15 years for each count.

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Top image adapted via Chaiwat Subprasom/SOPA Images/LightRocket and LightRocket via Getty Images