Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has wed his royal bodyguard just days before his coronation.
The king announced he has wed his royal consort, Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, and declared her queen.
A royal statement said the 66-year-old monarch “has decided to promote Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, his royal consort, to become Queen Suthida and she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family.”
The king performed a royal wedding ceremony with Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya in accordance with the law and royal traditions in a full and righteous manner, the statement added.
The pair officially married May 1 at the Ampornsathan Throne Hall in Bangkok’s Dusit Palace. The King’s younger sister, Princess Sirindhorn, and Chairman to Privy Council, Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, signed the marriage document as witnesses.
Junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha also attended the ceremony.
Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne following the death of his father in 2016, becoming King Rama X. He is the 10th member of the Chakri dynasty, which has ruled Thailand since Rama I took the throne in 1782.
The coronation of the King is going to take place on Saturday, with celebrations expected to last until the following Monday.
It is the fourth marriage for Vajiralongkorn, who has two daughters and five sons, only one of whom is officially recognized as a prince.
Queen Suthida has been a feature of the royal household for years. In 2016 Vajiralongkorn promoted her to the rank of general — and a year later made her deputy commander of the King’s Royal Guard Command.
As an important member of the royal family, she is protected by Thailand’s lese majeste laws.
What’s lese majeste?
The crime of lese majeste — insulting the royal family — is enforced by monarchies around the globe. But few are stricter than Thailand, where the law makes it illegal to defame, insult or threaten the King, queen, heir-apparent or regent.
Because of these restrictions, the media — including CNN — can only report certain details about senior members of the royal family.
Those found guilty of lese majeste can be jailed for up to 15 years for each count, with some sentences stretching to 60 years.
Despite its long pedigree, there is no clear legal definition of what exactly constitutes lese majeste, and complaints can be filed by anyone, from officials to members of the public.
Cases have spiked in recent years, with reports that the military junta used the law to silence dissent.