He was once known as the playboy prince of Thailand and since he came to power as his country’s ruler King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s reign has been no less controversial.
The 68-year-old has amassed a huge £24billion fortune and spends most of his time living in luxury in the German state of Bavaria.
Despite spending little time among his own people, it is illegal to publicly criticise Thailand’s ruler and King Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, comes down hard on those who do.
Even those closest to him aren’t immune from being excommunicated and cut out of royal life if he feels he, or his family, have been wronged.
Last October, Vajiralongkorn’s royal consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, was stripped of her official titles, military rank and disappeared from view.
She had become the first royal consort in almost a century, and made the 35-year-old the king’s official companion, alongside his wife.
The former nurse started her military career when her relationship with Vajiralongkorn began when he was still the crown prince.
Sineenat became a bodyguard, pilot, parachutist and joined the royal guards before being appointed a major-general last year.
She became the first Royal Noble Consort in nearly a century in July last year but just a few months later had fallen from grace.
A cutting statement from the palace described her as “ungrateful” after it was claimed she was involved in rivalry with Queen Suthida, Vajiralongkorn’s wife.
The Thai palace claimed she was punished for trying to elevate herself to “the same state as the queen” but on August 28, Sineenat had all her titles, honours and position of royal consort reinstated.
An official palace statement claimed Sineenat “is untainted”. It added: “Therefore, the stripping of royal titles, official position
in serving the crown in military capacity and military ranks and the recall of all declarations has never taken place.”
This is far from King Vajiralongkorn’s first controversial act of 2020. In April it was reported the monarch had gone into self-isolation at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Bavarian, accompanied by 20 of his concubines.
The 68-year-old was said to have moved his entire harem of mistresses into the high end Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl in Bavaria after he was given permission by authorities.
Bavaria was under lockdown at the time, like the rest of Germany, and the hotel should be closed down along with all the others but it was apparently been given “special permission” to remain open for the king and his bizarre court.
King Vajiralongkorn has long been a controversial figure in Thailand, and despite the threat of 35 years in prison, he is often criticised in his home country, albeit in private.
As the oldest monarch to ascend to Thailand’s throne, King Vajiralongkorn, has been married four times and has a colourful private life.
Said to be worth £24billion the royal has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, from his marriages, to his mistresses and even a leaked video of the queen naked apart from a G-string.
Back in November 2009 a home video of the royal and his third wife, Srirasmi Suwadee, was leaked.
The queen was wearing nothing but a G-string while servants waited on her hand of foot at the celebration of his pet poodle’s birthday.
That same year Harry Nicolaides, an Australian, was jailed for three years after he published a book which contained the sentence “if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever”.
Nicolaides was later pardoned by the king and he said his book had been “entirely fiction from cover to cover”.
Two years later, one of Vajiralongkorn’s royal planes was seized by German authorities as payment for a £27million debt owed to a German firm, which was in danger of becoming bankrupt.
Vajiralongkorn finally agreed to pay £18million, which was then covered by the Thai government.
He married his first wife, Princess Soamsawali Kitiyakara, in 1977 and the couple welcomed their daughter, Princess Najrakitiyabha.
However, during his first marriage, Vajiralongkorn embarked on an affair with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth, with whom he had five children.
Despite repeated requests, Princess Soamsawali refused to divorce her husband until he finally got his wish in 1993, claiming the fault of the marriage’s failure lay squarely at his wife’s door.
Even so, his first wife and their daughter continue to play a major part in royal events.
Vajiralongkorn, still a prince, then married the woman he had been having an affair with for more than 15 years – but their wedding was not blessed by the queen.
Just two years after their marriage Yuvadhida moved to Britain with all of the couple’s children – and the prince did not react well.
He put posters up all around the palace, accusing his wife of adultery and eventually abducted his daughter and brought her back to Thailand to live with him.
She was later elevated to the rank of princess, but his wife and their sons were stripped of their royal titles and they all now live in the US.
His third wife was Srirasmi Suwadee, who had worked for the prince since 1992. The marriage was kept from the public for four years, finally been disclosed in 2005.
Srirasmi gave birth to the couple’s son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, in the same year and was made a princess by her husband, who vowed his wild days were behind him.
But nine years later Vajiralongkorn demanded his wife’s family be stripped of their royal titles amid allegations of corruption among her relatives.
His wife relinquished her royal titles soon afterwards and agreed to a divorce after 13 years of marriage after being awarded a £4.4million settlement.
Just three days before he was crowned king, Vajiralongkorn married his fourth wife, Suthida Tidjai, who was a former acting commander of Royal Thai Aide-de-Camp Department.
However, despite once again being a married man Vajiralongkorn was not faithful and just months after his wedding he gave his concubine the title of Chao Khun Phra, which means royal noble consort, a position she now once again holds.