Ahead of his coronation this week, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has wed his royal consort General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Aydhaya and appointed her queen.
A royal statement released in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday said the 66-year-old monarch "has decided to promote General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Aydhaya, his royal consort, to become Queen Suthida and she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family." This news reportedly came as a surprise to many Thais as there has been little official information released about her.
Suthida Tidjai was a former flight attendant for Thai Airways before being appointed by the monarch as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit in 2014, and a full general in the Royal Thai army in December 2016. She was also conferred the royal title of Thanpuying (meaning 'lady'). They'd reportedly met on a flight.
They formally registered their marriage in his Bangkok palace residence, in front of the royal family and senior officials. The king was in a white uniform and the new queen donned a pink traditional dress for the ceremony. Wedding footage also showed Suthida prostrated before the king, and (according to an announcer) presented a tray of flowers and joss sticks. She was bestowed traditional gifts in return.
King Vajiralongkorn took the throne following the death of his father King Bhumibol, in 2016, becoming King Rama X. He is slated to be crowned on Saturday - following a mourning period for King Bhumibol - with elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin ceremonies, followed by a procession through Bangkok on Sunday.
This is the fourth marriage for Vajiralongkorn. He has two daughters and five sons, only one of whom is officially recognised as a prince.