Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who will have his official coronation on Saturday, has appointed his consort as the country’s queen.
An announcement on Wednesday in the Royal Gazette said Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya is legally married to the 66-year-old king, and is now Queen Suthida.
Although she has been in the public eye for about three years, there has been little official information released about her and the news was a surprise to many Thais. She is reported to be 40 years old and to have previously worked as a flight attendant for Thai Airways International. The two reportedly met on a flight.
Suthida joined the palace guard in 2013 and became commander of the king’s security unit, currently holding a general’s rank. The new queen also has several top royal decorations.
Vajiralongkorn has had three previous marriages and divorced his previous wife, with whom he has a son, in 2014. He became king after the death in October 2016 of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thai television, which broadcast the royal order on Wednesday evening, showed a video of Suthida prostrating herself before the king, to whom she, according to the announcer, presented a tray of flowers and joss sticks, and in return was bestowed traditional gifts associated with royal power.
It also showed the king in a white uniform and his bride in a pink silk traditional dress formally registering their marriage on Wednesday in his palace residence in the capital, Bangkok. It showed what the television 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. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other senior officials were also in attendance.