Considered for years the “black sheep” of the Thai royal family for its marriage to a foreigner and then aupada to national film stardom, the princess Ubolratana Mahidol, sister of the king of Thailand, could become the next prime minister of the Asian country.
The Thai Raksa Chart party, a formation related to the exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, announced on Thursday that its candidate for the March 24 elections will be Princess Ubolratana, the eldest sister of King Vajiralongkorn, in an unprecedented decision that is the first once a direct relative of a Thai monarch attends a poll.
The unexpected candidacy of Ubolratana is a political earthquake that is even more surprising considering that the princess, who maintains good relations with both the king and the clan Shinawatra, had never shown interest in the country’s politics.
The Thai princess Ubolratana Mahidol, nominated candidate of the party for prime minister.
Until now his public image was more associated with the glamorous world of high society, the show and, like his sisters, the Sirindhorn and Chulaborn princesses, with the social works.
Firstborn of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016 and revered in the country as the “father of the Thais,” and Queen Sirikit Kitiyakara, Ubolratana Mahidol was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 5, 1951, five years after his father acceded to the throne.
During his adolescence, Ubolratana maintained a close relationship with his father, with whom he used to practice regatta and accompany him in regional competitions until, in 1969, he moved to the United States to study at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). acronyms in English) with the aim of becoming a nuclear physics.
From controversy to controversy
In the university, the princess met who would be her future husband, the American citizen Peter Jensen, with whom she married in 1972.
The fact that his partner was a foreign commoner caused dismay at the Royal House and a month before the wedding the king withdrew his royal titles to Ubolratana.
The princess lived with her husband for almost three decades in the Californian city of San Diego under the name of Julie Jensen, although in 1980 she tried to get her father to return her royal titles.
Although King Bhumibol forgave him for marrying Jensen, he did not return the titles and the marriage soon returned to the United States.
Ubolratana had two daughters and a son in the United States, but he finally divorced Peter Jensen in 1999, the year he returned home with his three children, who were immediately granted Thai citizenship.
In the following years, the Thai press would refer to her as a princess, even though the king never restored her titles.
His son Bhumi Jensen died tragically at the age of twenty-one in the tsunami that struck the southern coasts of Thailand and other Asian countries in December 2004. Bhumi was autistic and, after his death, the princess created the Khun Bhumi Foundation to help to autistic children.
In another surprising turn, Ubolratana made his film debut in 2008 and starred in two more films over the next four years, including the local blockbuster “My Best Bodyguard.”
The independent princess has also recorded several music videos and maintains an active presence on the social network Instagram, which makes her closer than other members of the royal family.
In the last year, the now prime minister candidate has lent her image to an anti-drug campaign targeting Thai youth under the slogan “to be number one.”
In what could be seen as a preview of his new role, Ubolratana caused a sensation last summer when he circulated on social networks a picture in which he appeared with the brothers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, the former prime ministers deposed in separate coups in 2006 and 2014, both in exile, in the Soccer World Cup in Russia.