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Thai princess’s revolutionary run for prime minister nixed after king’s opposition

12 February 2019

Thailand's Election Commission is to meet today to consider the candidacy of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, who stunned the nation last Friday when she said she would be the prime ministerial candidate for a populist party loyal to the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra.

Members of the royal family should be "above politics" and therefore can not "hold any political office", the commission said in a statement, echoing the wording of a public statement from the king on Friday.

On Saturday, Paiboon said that although the princess has relinquished her royal title by law to become a commoner decades ago, she is still a royal family member by tradition, and members of the monarchy could not be involved in politics.

Princess Ubolratana, who renounced all claims to her royal status when she married an American man in 1972, sensationally announced her plan to stand as a candidate in Thailand's upcoming general election yesterday.

She returned to Thailand in 2001 from the US after her divorce and has since regularly taken part in charity, social welfare and health-promoting events as well as anti-drug campaigns for youths.

The March 24 election is the first since a military coup in 2014 toppled an elected pro-Thaksin government.

Following the King's statement, Princess Ubolratana took to Instagram on Sunday to extend her gratitude to her supporters for their "love and kindness towards each other over the past day".

The early protesters wore yellow - a colour associated with the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej - to show their reverence for the monarchy and Thai culture that they said Thaksin threatened through corruption and consolidating his own personal power.

She said: "I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by worldwide countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all".

After unusually blunt criticism from King Vajiralongkorn, the Thai Raksa Chart party had no choice but to accept his instruction that members of the royal family could not be brought into politics.

Chatter of an impending coup against the ruling junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha and a major change in army top brass has billowed out, with the hashtag #coup trending in the top 10 on Thai Twitter.

Party leaders were not immediately available for comment and cancelled a press conference planned for Monday.

The party, a second to the Thaksin political powerhouse Pheu Thai, was expected to help the Shinawatra machine secure a majority in the 350-seat lower house.

Thai Raksa Chart is one of several pro-Thaksin parties contesting the election.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile in England since he was deposed.

Thai princess’s revolutionary run for prime minister nixed after king’s opposition