Return of Thai Royal Prodigal Son Sparks Speculation about Monarchy’s Future

The unexpected return of Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, one of the estranged sons of King Vajiralongkorn, to Thailand after 27 years has stirred up speculation about the future of the Thai monarchy and the line of succession to the throne. Vacharaesorn’s arrival, accompanied by unofficial engagements and public appearances, has raised questions about his potential role in the royal family and whether he may be rehabilitated and brought back into the line of succession.

Previously believed to have been stripped of their royal status, Vacharaesorn and his three brothers were banished from Thailand with their mother, while their sister Princess Sirivanavari was allowed to return to live with their father. Despite occasional appeals for reconciliation, the estranged sons remained in the US and maintained a low profile, except for Vacharaesorn who actively engaged with the Thai community and openly supported the Thai monarchy.

The succession issue became more pressing after the collapse of the most plausible heir, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, who is still in a coma. With her unlikely to recover, there have been discussions in Thailand about rehabilitating one of the estranged sons and bringing them back to play a royal role. Vacharaesorn’s unannounced visit could be seen as the start of this rehabilitation process, although no official statement has been released from the palace.

During his visit, Vacharaesorn has enjoyed tourist activities, visiting temples, trying Thai food, and riding in a tuk-tuk. He has also had official engagements, including meeting the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist Sangha and visiting a childcare center sponsored by the palace. These activities are likely to be interpreted by many Thais as showcasing his potential for royal duties.

However, it is still too early to determine whether Vacharaesorn will have a significant role in the royal family and the line of succession. Further trips and periods of observation may be necessary to assess his ability to handle the public spotlight and navigate the complex politics of Thailand’s royal court.

The views of King Vajiralongkorn on this matter remain unknown. Those close to him have experienced sudden shifts in favor and some have disappeared from public view. Whoever organized Vacharaesorn’s return back to Thailand is likely proceeding with caution, aware of the potential implications and sensitivities surrounding the issue of royal succession.

This unexpected return of a prodigal son has ignited speculation about the future of the Thai monarchy and the potential shift in the line of succession. With Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s health condition and King Vajiralongkorn’s yet-to-be-determined successor, Thailand’s monarchy is facing a period of uncertainty and intrigue that will undoubtedly capture the attention and curiosity of the Thai people and international observers.