07BANGKOK5839 Crown Prince discusses Monarchy
CROWN PRINCE DISCUSSES MONARCHY,
POLITICS IN AMBASSADOR’S FAREWELL CALL
Ref ID: 07BANGKOK5839
Date: 11/16/2007 6:52
Origin: Embassy Bangkok
Header: AMEMBASSY BANGKOKTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0717
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONSRUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON
1507RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HIRUEAIIA/CIA
WASHINGTON DCRHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HIRHEFDIA/DIA WASHDCRHFJSCC/
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 005839 SIPDIS SIPDIS NSC FOR PHU E.O. 12958:
DECL: 11/16/2017 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, KDEM, TH SUBJECT: CROWN PRINCE DISCUSSES MONARCHY,
POLITICS IN AMBASSADOR’S FAREWELL CALL Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) I paid a farewell call on Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn on November 13. He appeared pleased with the
news that his father had been able to jam two days earlier for two hours with the visiting Preservation Hall
Jazz Band. He said in general terms that the institution of the monarchy had helped prevent Thailand’s
falling into a state of dictatorship, and he labeled former Prime Minister Thaksin as a dictator who had
come to power through elections. He agreed Thailand would likely be governed by a weak coalition
government after December’s elections, with the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) unable to
draw allies and PPP party leader Samak Sundaravej unsuited to become Prime Minister. The Crown
Prince assessed the security situation in the South as improving; he also commented that his
Royal Consort had experienced some frustration adjusting to her new role. In an earlier encounter
with Srirasm, she told me her son was speaking energetically, contrary to rumors that he has shown
signs of autism. She exhibited visible discomfort with an innocuous question about Princess Sirindhorn,
seen as a rival of the Crown Prince. Srirasm also confirmed that royal poodle Foo Foo now holds the
rank of Air Chief Marshal. End Summary.
REMARKS ON THE KING ——————-
2. (C) I paid a farewell call on Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn at his Sukhothai Palace residence on
November 13. We began by talking about the Embassy-sponsored Preservation Hall Jazz Band event
which he and Royal Consort Srirasm had attended on November 10. Interestingly, the Crown Prince
was unaware that King Bhumibol had participated in a two-hour jam session with the band the following
day (November 11). He was pleased with news of the session, saying it would have been invigorating
for the King \”after all he has been through\” lately. He added that the King often preferred to communicate
through music rather than speech, noting that musicians have a common bond that transcends language.
(Note: According to the musicians, the King was able to speak normally and showed no sign of serious
impairment from his recent mild stroke. End Note.) 3. (C) The Crown Prince continued to discuss the
King and the monarchy generally; he praised his father for his achievements while on the throne and
noted the King always conducted himself with the interests of the Thai people at heart. He said, \
“Without this institution, Thailand might be a real dictatorship, like we used to have under
(Field Marshal) Pibulsonggram.\” (Comment: It was unclear whether he was distinguishing the monarchy
as an institution from King Bhumibol’s personal role. Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram overthrew the
absolute monarch and held power from 1938 until 1944, then again from 1948 to 1957 — including the
first decade of King Bhumibol’s reign. End Comment.)
4. (C) Turning to Thai politics, the Crown Prince remarked that it must be difficult for outside observers
to fathom the complexity of developments here, adding that even he sometimes found it hard to grasp.
As we speculated on scenarios for the upcoming election, he agreed with the notion that the People’s
Power Party (PPP) might win the most votes but prove unable to form a government, because people
recognized that PPP was essentially a reincarnation of Thai Rak Thai, and returning this group to power
would throw the country into disarray.
5. (C) The Crown Prince rolled his eyes at mention of PPP Party Leader Samak Sundaravej, saying that
Samak would be unacceptable as Prime Minister. While Samak could be an effective public speaker, his
judgment was poor and he had always been brusque and controversial. The Crown Prince assessed the
current interim administration would almost certainly be supplanted by a fragile and relatively ineffective
coalition government, quite possibly led by the BANGKOK 00005839 002 OF 003 Democrat Party, with
PPP forming a combative, strong opposition force.
6. (C) Despite Thailand’s long history of coups and its many constitutions, the Crown Prince said, the
Thai people loved democracy and individual freedoms. He said he found it ironic that Prime Minister
Thaksin had essentially been able to act as a dictator, although coming to power through elections.
(Comment: Early in Thaksin’s administration, Thaksin seemed to invest heavily in cultivating close
ties to the Crown Prince. The two men later had a spectacular falling-out, prompting the Crown Prince
to abandon the Nonthaburi Palace that Thaksin had purchased and outfitted for him, moving to
the Sukhothai Palace downtown. Stories vary about a meeting between Thaksin and the Crown Prince
in London earlier this year; the version we assess as most likely is that Thaksin sought an audience
with the Crown Prince, and, when this was not granted, he inserted himself into the reception line
at the Crown Prince’s hotel and had a 45-second discussion devoid of substance. End Comment.)
THE SOUTH ———
7. (C) The Crown Prince also noted that he and Royal Consort Srirasm had recently traveled to southern
Thailand. (They were there from November 11-13, providing assistance to residents of the troubled
border provinces, performing a religious rite to commemorate the King’s upcoming 80th birthday,
and presenting honors to prominent local figures.) He said the security situation in the deep was
improving, but it was necessary to travel there, to boost the people’s morale.
SRIRASM’S ADJUSTMENT TO HER NEW ROLE ————————————
8. (C) The Crown Prince noted that Srirasm’s life had changed radically when she became a Princess;
she had to master massive responsibilities and deal with a wide range of issues relating to protocol
and the use of court language. Although she conducted herself publicly with perfect grace and
composure, the Crown Prince said, in private she had felt some frustration adapting to her new
role. He added, however, that Thais loved her because, like the King’s mother, she was a
\”commoner,\” and her background added to her charm.
DISCUSSION WITH SRIRASM AT JAZZ BAND EVENT ——————————————
9. (C) I also had the opportunity to speak with Srisasm when we were seated next to each other at the
November 10 Preservation Hall Jazz Band gala dinner. I asked at that time how she had adjusted to
the new protocols and court language usage required of her. She told me that she had no difficulties,
as she had worked for the Queen for 15 years at the Bang Pa-in summer palace.
10. (C) Srirasm also described her son, Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, as a bit of a prodigy, noting that he
speaks energetically — mostly in Thai, but also in English (in which he receives instruction). She
remarked that Dipangkorn tended to speak like an adult, because he was always in the company
of adults. (Comment: If true, this account would appear to put to rest rumors of autism. End
11. (C) I mentioned to Srirasm that, during the state dinner hosted by the King for former President
Bush in December 2006, the King had appeared most energized when discussing animals; he had
spoken animatedly about his most well-known dog, Thongdaeng, and others. I mentioned having
heard Princess Sirindhorn had a large dog, and I asked Srirasm if she knew the breed. Srirasm
appeared immediately to freeze up; her body language changed, and she said curtly that she
knew nothing of Sirindhorn’s affairs. (Comment: Her reaction was interesting, given a widespread,
longstanding perception that Sirindhorn may somehow edge out the Crown Prince as successor to
the King. End Comment.)
12. (C) Srirasm also confirmed that the Crown Prince’s miniature poodle, Foo Foo, currently holds
the rank of Air BANGKOK 00005839 003 OF 003 Chief Marshal. Foo Foo was present at the event,
dressed in formal evening attire complete with paw mitts, and at one point during the band’s second
number, he jumped up onto the head table and began lapping from the guests’ water glasses,
including my own. The Air Chief Marshal’s antics drew the full attention of the 600-plus audience
members, and remains the talk of the town to this day.
COMMENT ——- 13. (C) The Crown Prince appears healthy. I was recently told by M.R. Pridiyathorn
Devakula, former Deputy Prime Minister and Palace insider, that the reason the Crown Prince had
looked gaunt and was walking unsteadily a few months ago (which sparked rumors of his failing health)
was because he was wearing some kind of constricting apparel under his clothing. The doctors told
him to take it off, and he immediately looked more fit and stable. In conversation with me, he was
able to engage in easy back-and-forth discussion throughout.
Source: The Telegraph http://goo.gl/N0CNI
WikiLeaks cables: Thailand’s royal pet
An experienced diplomat should be able to greet anyone from a king to a despot, but nothing could prepare one US ambassador for the experience of meeting a military officer that happened to be a poodle.
Ralph Boyce, the former head of the US embassy in Bangkok, wrote an extraordinary account of a dinner with Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and the prince’s dog, Foo Foo, which held the rank of Air Chief Marshal.
Mr Boyce described the dinner in a valedictory dispatch in November, 2007, when he “paid a farewell call” on the 58-year-old Crown Prince. The prince’s consort, Princess Srirasmi, “confirmed that the Crown Prince’s miniature poodle, Foo Foo, currently holds the rank of Air Chief Marshal”, wrote the ambassador.
“Foo Foo was present at the event, dressed in formal evening attire complete with paw mitts, and at one point during the band’s second number, he jumped up on to the head table and began lapping from the guests’ water glasses, including my own.
“The Air Chief Marshal’s antics drew the full attention of the 600-plus audience members, and remains the talk of the town to this day.”
Under Thai law, criticism of the royal family is forbidden, but the Crown Prince was at the centre of a scandal in 2009 when an Australian TV channel obtained a video of a lavish birthday party he had thrown for Foo Foo, during which Princess Srirasmi, 39, sat topless.