On February 10, the Braunschweiger Zeitung, a regional German newspaper, made a spectacular mistake in a news story about Thailand’s crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn. The newspaper reported that the prince, who is heir to the throne of Thailand, spent three days last week at the Mövenpick Hotel in Braunschweig, also known as Brunswick, accompanied by his wife and an entourage of 60 people plus his pet poodle, Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo.
The prince and his companion spent much of their time shopping, buying 15 porcelain figurines in a local shop. According to the newspaper, the prince also gave instructions that he did not want any commoners sharing the hotel elevator with him.
The article was illustrated with an archive photograph from Associated Press of the prince with his third — and current — wife, Srirasmi.
But in fact, Vajiralongkorn has been estranged from Srirasmi for at least four years. His wife was in Bangkok last week. The woman Vajiralongkorn was with was not Srirasmi; it was probably his main mistress, a former Thai Airways flight attendant who lives with him in Munich, where he spends most of his time. A secret U.S. cable in 2009 noted that:
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has spent most (up to 75%) of the past two years based in Europe (primarily at a villa at a medicinal spa 20 km outside of Munich), with his leading mistress and beloved white poodle Fufu. Vajiralongkorn is believed to be suffering from a blood-related medical condition (varying sources claim he is either: HIV positive; has Hepatitis C; is afflicted by a rare form of “blood cancer,” or some combination which leads to regular blood transfusions). His current (third) wife Srirasmi and 4 year old son … reside in his Sukhothai Palace in Bangkok, but when Vajiralongkorn travels back to Bangkok, he stays with his second mistress in the retrofitted Air Force VIP lounge at Wing Six, Don Muang Airport (note: both mistresses are Thai Airways stewardesses; the Crown Prince has shifted from flying F5s to Thai Airways Boeings and Airbuses in recent years. End note). Long known for violent and unpredictable mood swings, the Crown Prince has few people who have stayed long in his inner circle.
A translation of the German newspaper article is below. I am very grateful to the source who both tipped me off to the article and provided an English translation. The source wishes to remain anonymous.
Royal couple on secret visit
Thailand’s Crown Prince extended his German pilot’s license at the German Federal Aviation Office — she bought porcelain.
By Marc Rotermund
Secret visit to Brunswick: The Thai crown prince and his wife have resided here from Monday to Wednesday at the Mövenpick Hotel. They were accompanied by an entourage of 60 people, servants and bodyguards — and a dog.
Hotel Managing Director Jost Smeulders confirmed this after the departure of the Royal Couple. They had rented about half the rooms on one entire floor. “For security reasons, I could not talk about it before,” said Smeulders.
According to him, the main reason for the couple’s stay was that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn had to extend his pilot’s license at the German Federal Aviation Office [Luftfahrtbundesamt, located in town]. The 58-year-old is known to pilot a Royal Thai Air Force Boeing plane by himself.
There was a strange incident when this plane was temporarily seized in Munich last summer for the reason that the Thai government owed money to a German contractor.
The Brunswick visit of the Royal couple was held under the strictest level of secrecy. Weeks before the arrival, a delegation from the Royal Palace visited the hotel incognito, reported Smeulders. They made bookings for more than 30 rooms and suites but it was only a few days before arrival when he was actually informed about the identity of his VIP guests, the hotel manager told us.
On Sunday the first group of staff arrived from Berlin. Dozens of cases were transported in a truck to Brunswick and unloaded. One hotel room was completely cleared for the purpose of establishing their own kitchen, providing the many employees, servants and security officials with Thai specialties, but the royal couple had mostly chosen food from the hotel kitchen during their stay.
“The time with the delegation from Thailand was very intense,” says Smeulders. His staff was, for example, under strict scrutiny of several security guards when they were cleaning the rooms.
Every time the Crown Prince left his suite hotel staff had to block other guests from using the elevator. The hotel manager said: “They did not want a stranger on the same elevator by chance on the way to another floor”. Taking photographs was also “not welcome”.
Shopping seemed to be most popular activitiy of His Royal Highness and his wife during their 3-day stay. They were seen in Hannover, in the Outlet Center of Wolfsburg — and in Braunschweig city center.
At Art & Deco Shop in Welfenhof the Princess bought 15 high-quality porcelain figurines, and about ten bodyguards were closely watching inside and in front of the store, shop owner Helge Papendieck told us.
“I’ve only later learned from one of his employees who was shopping at my store,” said Papendieck, who could not resist a smile. “The Crown Princess has bargained with me.” She was very vivacious, he is more the quiet type. Papendieck is especially excited that his figurines will soon find their place in the royal household.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (58) is the son of ailing King Bhumibol (84). In Thailand, he is a controversial figure because of his military past and his lifestyle (He is married to his third wife).
Braunschweiger Zeitung, 10 February 2012, page 17
© Braunschweiger Zeitung Verlag, 2012