BANGKOK — Undoubtedly the biggest bombshell in modern Thai political history was Ubolratana Mahidol’s leap onto the political stage today.
It’s not the first one occupied by the newly nominated candidate for prime minister, who is far from a reclusive figure. In fact, the eldest daughter of the late King Bhumibol has been something of a royal celebrity, acting on the screen and sharing colorful life moments via Instagram. To gain some insight into the 67-year-old’s life, here’s a look at some of her biggest public moments, from soap opera appearances, movie credits, stage shows, TV productions and wacky life moments.
Ubolratana’s first foray into television drama was in 2003. She appeared as Phra Wisutkasat, a daughter of Queen Suriyothai in Kantana Group’s Ayutthaya-era series “Kshatriya” as well as another series, “Great King Saves the Land.”
Three years later she starred in “Anantalai” by the same production company. A vehicle for social issues, it told of a powerful flower with narcotic-like qualities responsible for destroying ancient kingdoms and disrupting modern lives. In a 2006 interview, she explained the plot herself:
“I play the ruler of a kingdom that was destroyed because the people were intoxicated with Anantalai, which is similar to a drug. Then [my character] came down to help, like a fairy in the Lord of the Rings, to help present-day people stay away from drugs.”
A decade ago, she starred in back-to-back films. She was a businesswoman volunteering to teach rural children in “Where the Miracle Happens,” followed by “My Best Bodyguard.” In the latter, she plays a journalist who’s learned that evil foreigners are plotting to poison Thais with a virus. The action vehicle pairs Ubolratana with a hunky bodyguard sidekick played by heartthrob actor Shahkrit Yamnam.
“The challenging part of this job is going out there, and having enough balls to bring to truth back to tell the public,” the English subtitles to the film’s trailer read.
The princess was slated to play a 7th century Mon warrior queen in “The Legend of the Queen” that year, but the project never took off.
“We shall make war to stop the war!” she proclaims while drawing a sword in a trailer completed before the project was canceled.
For the 88th birthday of her father, King Rama IX, in 2012, she starred in short film “Swimming Across the Sea of Stars” with actor Toni Rakkaen. In the film, she is one of two siblings dealing with an ailing father and deceased mother.
In the same year, she played a woman in a dysfunctional relationship with a father who abandoned her when she was young and is sliding into senility in “Together Lovely Day.”
Most recently in the soap “Sky-Lost Star, Silver Mountain” she played Queen Aummarabha of Samar, a fictional, Arabian-like country. Her daughter, Princess Jasmine, has run off to Thailand and been captured by terrorists there.
BNK48’s “Koisuru Fortune Cookie” and the hit theme song of a recent period drama were some of the pop favorites Ubolratana sang to cheering crowds at a concert she threw last year in May.
She also performed the theme song for To Be Number One, an anti-drug foundation she founded in 2002.
“To Be Number One” song.
The princess also sang the theme songs in some of her feature films, such as the OST to
“Where the Miracle Happens.” For “My Best Bodyguard” she sang two songs: a cover of Sinatra’s “My Way” and “That Man.” She was also one of 40 artists to perform “Thai Axe, One Heart,” a song raising awareness of violence in the restive Deep South.
Ubolratana hosts the “To Be Number One Variety” talk show by her foundation of the same name and the Mental Health Department. The show airs Saturdays from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on state broadcaster NBT. Ubolratana gives advice to youth on the show.
The Feb. 2 episode of “To Be Number One Variety.”
She hosted a similar show called “Princess Diary” on state broadcaster Channel 11 in the late noughties.
Ubolratana is an active social media user, with fun photos on her Instagram handle @Nichax constantly making the news. Most recently, she posted photos Wednesday night in a qipao (cheongsam) with twin, red-ribboned buns to wish people a happy Chinese New Year.
She revealed she was for Team Germany in a popular Instagram post during the 2018 World Cup. In December she posted a puzzling, funny photo of herself posing inside a taxi. For Christmas 2017, she danced and sang several carols. She even sang, danced and body-percussed to one of her father’s compositions.