Suthida Tidjai (Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn) was born on Jun 3, 1978. Queen Suthidais, a former flight attendant for Thai Airways International, reportedly met the then crown prince on a flight. She graduated from Assumption University, a private university in Bangkok, with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 2000, according to the Thai Rath newspaper.
Before her marriage to King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Wednesday (May 1), Ms Suthida had been his long-time consort and part of his security detail, often appearing with him in public events.
She has been awarded royal honours in 20 royal decrees, the first in 2012 when King Bhumibol Adulyadej awarded her the Order of the White Elephant for her “honesty, loyalty and responsibility … dedication and sacrifice” in service to Prince Vajiralongkorn. The royal decree named her as Lieutenant Colonel Suthida Vajiralongkorn.
In 2013, Ms Suthida became a special officer of the crown prince’s bodyguard regiment, before he appointed her as a deputy commander in 2014.
And while their romantic relationship has been rumored for a while, it became public only when the king announced that he had married her, making her his fourth wife and queen. In part, that’s because of Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws, which make it illegal to insult or criticize the king or queen. Breaking the law could bring 15 years in prison, which informs the way in which media covers the reported richest royal in the world (a title held because the king, in 2016, signed the $30 billion family fortune over to himself). Charges related to lèse-majesté reportedly were brought against relatives of the king’s third wife after their 2014 divorce.
The king made Ms Suthida a full general in the Royal Thai Army in December 2016 after he took the throne following his father’s death.
In 2017, he made her the deputy commander of the king’s personal guard and gave her the royal title of Thanpuying, which means “Lady”.
Although Ms Suthida has been in the public eye for about three years, there has been little official information released about her and the news of the wedding was a surprise to many Thais, the Associated Press reported.
The wedding took place three days before the king is due to be officially crowned in elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin ceremonies on Saturday, followed by a procession through Bangkok on Sunday.
Queen Suthida is expected to participate in some of the coronation events, and is likely to receive new royal titles based on a tradition for a new monarch to grant new titles to family members. The wedding was announced in the Royal Gazette, and footage from Wednesday’s wedding ceremony was later shown on the nightly Royal News segment on all Thai television channels.
“Therefore, he bestows (the title) on General Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya from Queen Consort to Queen Suthida as of now,” said the announcement.
The registration of the royal marriage took place at the Ampornsathan Throne Hall in the Dusit Palace at the auspicious time of 4.32pm, the Bangkok Post reported.
After the royal announcement was read, Queen Suthida prostrated herself and gave flowers to the king, who in return bestowed on her royal water, auspicious leaves to be placed above her ear and other decorations associated with royal power.
Harsh lese-majeste laws mean unguarded discussion about the monarchy inside Thailand is virtually impossible, and the kingdom’s normally bubbly social media was subdued in reaction to the news of the nuptials.
The footage also showed what the TV announcer said was the couple signing a marriage certificate book, which was also signed by the king’s sister, Princess Sirindhorn, and Privy Council head Prem Tinsulanonda as witnesses, the Associated Press reported.
Among the dignitaries at the wedding were Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, the leader of the military government that has run Thailand since a 2014 army coup, as well as other members of the royal family and palace advisers, the wedding footage showed.
Queen Suthida Quick Facts
- Suthida is a full military general and former commander of the Special Operations Unit of the elite King’s Guard. She is commander of the Royal Security Command’s Thai Aide-de-Camp Department.
- Suthida, also known by her nickname “Nui”, has been seen for years in royal household authorized footage escorting Vajiralongkorn at royal rites and sacred ceremonies.
- She played a notably prominent role in the elaborate and sacred October 2017 funeral ceremony for the widely revered Bhumibol, who many Thais considered semi-divine.
- Vajiralongkorn and Suthida have also been seen together in more casual wear in Europe, including at a Germany shopping mall and air strip, in photos and film footage that have subsequently gone viral in Thailand.
- With her accession to queen, Suthida will be protected by Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws, which allow for 15-year prison sentences for any criticism of the king, queen, heir and regent.
- Suthida will be the new king’s fourth wife after three previous divorces. Vajiralongkorn most recently separated in 2014 from Srirasmi Suwadee, with whom he had a son, Prince Dipangkorn Ramijoti, 14, seen until now as the most likely heir to the throne.
- Queen Suthida first received a royally bestowed decoration in 2012 while she was serving in the crown prince’s guard regiment as a lieutenant colonel. An order issued by the office of the prime minister noted her “serving Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn well, with honesty, loyalty, responsibility in the given assignment”.
- Six orders were issued by the office of the prime minister in 2013 to elevate the ranks of Queen Suthida.
Suthida Tidjai ‘legally married’ King Vajiralongkorn in accordance with royal traditions, an announcement in the Royal Gazette said. The relationship between the King and his new Queen has been compared to the famous musical The King and I.
- Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn Biography and Profile