The king of Thailand, the world’s richest royal with a fortune of some $30 billion, just promoted his head bodyguard and longtime royal consort to be the Kingdom’s new queen.
The announcement that Suthida Tidjai, a 40-year-old former flight attendant, is now queen comes just days before king Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn coronation.
The coronation was made official in this ceremony that was filmed and shared with the press, per the Washington Post.
Vajiralongkorn took over in 2016 after his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, passed away, but his coronation, which will take place on Saturday, has been inexplicably delayed for three years. The king hasn’t given a reason as to why.
Per the royal statement, the king “has decided to promote General 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, who has married and divorced three wives already, made Suthida deputy commander of his bodyguard unit in 2014 back when he was still crown prince. She was made a full general in 2016, and in 2017 became deputy commander of the new king’s personal guard.
Though their romantic relationship has been rumored for a while, Thailand’s strict laws punishing insults and criticisms of the king have largely stifled any discussion in the public sphere.