BANGKOK — News that a former princess will run in next month’s election certainly caught many by surprise, even hardline defenders of the royal family.
Prominent leaders of the royalist camp woke up Friday to what proved a rude awakening for some: Ubolratana Mahidol, the oldest child of the late King Bhumibol, is now the prime minister candidate for a party long accused of undermining the monarchy – a possibility many disregarded just last night.
“This is all fake news,” Sermsuk Kasitipradit wrote Thursday in response to swirling rumors about Ubolratana’s nomination. “It’s fake news. No one is nominating her.”
Sermsuk, a former editor of The Nation newspaper who commands a large online following, wrote this morning that he had to acknowledge the news.
“This is a long movie,” Sermsuk wrote to his followers, many of whom criticized former leader Thaksin Shinawatra for “drawing” the royal family into politics.
Chulcherm Yugala, a distant relative of the late King Bhumibol, had also dismissed the rumors as nonsense.
“Nonsense. This country is getting very imaginative,” Chulcherm wrote last night. He has yet to post any mea culpa.
Popular Thaksin critic and hardline royalist Therdsak Jiamkijwattana had likewise slammed those spreading rumors for sowing “confusion.”
After Ubolratana’s acceptance of the nomination was confirmed, Therdsak posted a poem attributed to a famed monk who prophesied that a “lady on a white horse” would rescue Thailand in its darkest moment.
Their surprise is a telling sign of how tightly the Thaksin faction has kept word of its checkmate move secret to even those in the palace’s inner circle.
It was also a media-made moment of validation for Thaksin, who has long battled suspicions from the royalist faction that he seeks to overthrow the monarchy. When a photo of Thaksin and Ubolratana watching the FIFA World Cup in Russia emerged on social media last year, many royalists believed it was a forgery.