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Posts tagged ‘Royal Archives’

King commends CBJ measures to mitigate COVID-19 impact

By JT

Jul 08,2020

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday commended the measures taken by the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis on the national economy.

During a visit to the CBJ, King Abdullah said the measures helped the private sector weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), according to a Royal Court statement.

Speaking at a meeting attended by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, His Majesty praised the CBJ’s role in maintaining monetary and financial stability and supporting economic growth in Jordan, as well as its success in strengthening the resilience and safety of Jordan’s banking system.

The King stressed the importance of developing e-government and e-payment services, urging continued coordination among all institutions.

His Majesty said the CBJ must continue with its programs to counter any future developments.

Jordan will come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger, the King reiterated, noting that the opportunities to achieve that are available, and the ideas discussed can help Jordan stand out regionally and internationally.

For his part, Prime Minister Razzaz said the economy has proven its resilience in facing the challenges imposed by COVID-19, commending the measures taken by the CBJ to help companies maintain liquidity and retain their employees.

He said nearly 13,000 SMEs have moved from the informal to the formal economy and have benefited from unemployment insurance after registering to benefit from mobile wallet services.

National Aid Fund beneficiaries have also been receiving support through mobile wallets, the prime minister added.

In a briefing presented at the meeting, CBJ Governor Ziad Fariz said Jordan’s monetary stability helped enhance its credibility and gained local and foreign trust.

Fariz outlined the CBJ’s projections for economic performance in the upcoming period, noting that foreign exchange reserves are within safe levels, which has reflected on monetary stability and helped maintain a low inflation rate at 3 per cent, while preserving the Jordanian dinar’s exchange rate against the US dollar at the same level since 1995.

The Kingdom’s reserves are sufficient to cover eight months of imports, which is a comfortable level, he added, stressing the stability of the banking and finance sectors and their ability to serve the economy.

CBJ officials highlighted the measures taken by the bank to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including a financing program targeting firms harmed by the crisis.

A total of 3,645 loans have been financed, disbursed to SMEs, professionals, and business owners, they explained. Some 43 per cent of the loans were disbursed to cover salaries, with the government covering their interest, and they have benefited 75,000 employees at a total value of JD156 million.

They said CBJ’s monetary response since the beginning of the crisis has amounted to 8 per cent of the GDP, which is among the highest levels in the region and has substantially contributed to containing the impact of COVID-19 on economic sectors.

They also noted the progress of CBJ’s strategy of financial inclusion, which succeeded in almost doubling the financial inclusion rate (from 24 per cent in 2014 to nearly 50 per cent).

The gender gap in financing dropped to 29 per cent, down from 53 per cent, while Jordan’s ranking on the World Bank Group’s latest Doing Business report rose from 134th to 4th place in terms of ease in getting credit, they said.

Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Al Khasawneh, and Adviser to His Majesty for Policies and Media Kamal Al Nasser accompanied the King on the visit.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/king-commends-cbj-measures-mitigate-covid-19-impact.

Princess Raiyah weds Faris Ned Donovan in the United Kingdom

By JT

Jul 07,2020

AMMAN — With the blessings of His Majesty King Abdullah, HRH Princess Raiyah married Faris Ned Donovan in the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty Queen Noor, Jordan’s Ambassador to the UK Omar Nahar and the Donovan family attended the brief ceremony, held in accordance with lockdown regulations due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a Royal Court statement.

Her Royal Highness was engaged to Donovan on October 26, 2019.

Princess Raiyah, born in Amman in 1986, is the daughter of His Majesty the late King Hussein and Her Majesty Queen Noor.

She holds an undergraduate master’s degree in Japanese studies from Edinburgh University in Scotland, a master’s degree in Japanese literature from Columbia University in New York and is currently a PhD candidate in pre-modern Japanese literature at UCLA, the statement said.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/princess-raiyah-weds-faris-ned-donovan-united-kingdom.

Dubai ruler, princess in London court over welfare of kids

July 30, 2019

LONDON (AP) — A dispute between the ruler of Dubai and his estranged wife over the welfare of their two young children will play out over the next two days in a London courtroom amid reports the princess has fled the Gulf emirate.

The case beginning Tuesday in Britain’s High Court pits Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum against Princess Haya, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan. The princess is believed to be in Britain, where she owns a gated mansion.

The clash between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya is the latest sign of trouble in Dubai’s ruling family. Last year, a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed tried to flee Dubai after appearing in a 40-minute video saying she had been imprisoned.

Dubai’s ruler, estranged wife headed for court clash in UK

July 04, 2019

LONDON (AP) — A legal battle between the powerful, poetry-writing ruler of Dubai and his wealthy estranged wife is leading toward a showdown in a London courtroom later this month. The family division court case scheduled on July 30 pits Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum against Princess Haya, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and an accomplished Olympic equestrian on friendly terms with horse aficionado Queen Elizabeth II.

The hearing is expected to focus on who will have custody of their two young children now that the princess has left Dubai. She is believed to be in Britain, where she owns a gated mansion on Kensington Palace Gardens, a private street lined with some of the world’s most expensive homes and cars.

When The Associated Press asked via intercom for an interview with Princess Haya or one of her representatives, a man emerged to say there would be no comments made on her behalf. He didn’t indicate whether she was in the residence.

The clash between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya is the latest sign of trouble in his extended family. Last year, a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed tried to flee Dubai after appearing in a 40-minute video saying she had been imprisoned on and off for several years and had been abused. Her friends say she was forcibly returned after commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India when she tried to flee the Emirates.

The sheikh, who is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates in addition to being the ruler of Dubai, is among the most influential figures in the Middle East. He also composes poetry, a long tradition among Gulf Arabs, and it was his own words that sparked the initial rumors that Haya had fled Dubai.

The talk started after a verified Emirati Instagram account followed by the Dubai ruler’s son posted a poem last week attributed to Sheikh Mohammed. The poem, titled “You Lived and You Died,” is about disloyalty, leading to speculation it is about Princess Haya.

“You betrayed the most precious trust, and your game has been revealed,” the poem says. “Your time of lying is over and it doesn’t matter what we were nor what you are.” The harsh words caused reverberations and speculation throughout royal circles in the Middle East and beyond.

The princess, 45, and Sheikh Mohammed, 69, were married in 2004 and have a daughter, 11, and son, 7, together. Both were educated at elite English universities and they share a love for horses. Media reports indicate she took the children with her when she left Dubai. Under Islamic law, a woman can at least nominally retain custody of her children in a divorce. Nonetheless, decisions about schooling, travel and lifestyles of the children often remain with the father in the Middle East. Given the Dubai ruler’s power, it is unlikely Princess Haya would have had a say in her children’s ability to leave the UAE had she not reportedly fled with them.

Haya’s half-brother is Jordan’s current monarch, King Abdullah, who was pictured at her side when she wed Dubai’s ruler, reportedly becoming his sixth wife. She is a former Olympic athlete who competed in equestrian show jumping in the 2000 Sydney Games, a taboo-breaking feat for women from traditional Muslim countries. Her love of sports and horse riding began early — she was just 13 when she became the first female to represent Jordan internationally in equestrian show jumping.

Haya has long stood out from other wives of Gulf Arab rulers not only because of her Jordanian royal background and Olympic ambitions, but because she was seen and photographed in public. Most rulers’ wives in the Gulf are never photographed and their faces and names aren’t known to the public. But Princess Haya wasn’t only visible at humanitarian events, often seated front row in Dubai by her husband’s side, but was a stylish fixture in glossy magazines and at prestigious equestrian events in the U.K,, like the Royal Ascot and Epsom Derby.

In a 2009 Daily Mail interview, the princess said she deliberately postponed marriage until she could meet a man “who doesn’t feel he has to mold me.” She was quoted as saying, “You have to accept that you’re in control of yourself but not your destiny.”

The government of Dubai hasn’t commented on the media reports about Princess Haya fleeing with her children to Europe.

Johnson denies lying to queen, wins Brexit court case

September 12, 2019

LONDON (AP) — The British government insisted Thursday that its forecast of food and medicine shortages, gridlock at ports and riots in the streets after a no-deal Brexit is an avoidable worst-case scenario, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied misleading Queen Elizabeth II about his reasons for suspending Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union.

In better news for the embattled British leader, a Belfast court rejected claims that the Conservative government’s Brexit strategy should be ruled illegal because it risked undermining Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Johnson took office in July vowing to get Brexit done on the scheduled Oct. 31 date, even if there is not a divorce deal to smooth the way. But many lawmakers, economists and businesses fear a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and are fighting him every step of the way.

This week, Parliament forced the government to publish its official assessment of the impact of leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The six-page classified document, dated Aug. 2, said customs checks meant the number of trucks crossing the main freight route between Calais and Dover would drop by between 40% and 60% within a day of a no-deal Brexit, with disruptions lasting up to three months. The supply of certain types of fresh foods and essential medicines would decrease, prices would go up and the poor would be hit hardest, it said.

The paper also described major disruptions for travelers between Britain and the EU and uncertainty for U.K. citizens living in Europe, and it said attempts to maintain an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would probably fail. It also said a no-deal exit could trigger major protests and even riots.

Johnson insisted the bleak scenario was “not where we intend to end up.” “This is a worst-case scenario which civil servants obviously have to prepare for, but in the last few months, and particularly in the 50 days since I’ve been prime minister, we’ve been massively accelerating our preparations,” he said.

Opposition politicians said the “Operation Yellowhammer” document — the government’s code name for its Brexit preparations — proved that Johnson is reckless to consider leaving the bloc without a deal.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said it was extraordinary that a U.K. government “is content on inflicting on the British public the level of disruption which is set out in the Yellowhammer papers.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the scenario was a “planning assumption” and would only come true if the government did nothing to offset it. “We are spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions,” he told the BBC.

The government said it would publish an updated version of the assessment soon that would show how much progress had been made. The government refused to comply with another part of Parliament’s demand — that it hand over email and texts among officials and aides discussing the government’s decision to suspend Parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline. Michael Gove, the minister in charge of Brexit planning, said the request was inappropriate and disproportionate.

The order to release the Yellowhammer document was one of a series of blows to the government by opposition lawmakers and rebel Conservatives. They also passed a law that orders the government to seek a three-month delay to Brexit if no agreement has been reached by late October, and rejected Johnson’s call for a snap general election.

After suffering six defeats in the House of Commons in as many days, Johnson suspended Parliament for five weeks until Oct. 14, sparking outrage among legislators and several legal challenges. The U.K. Supreme Court is set to consider next week whether the shutdown should be reversed, after conflicting rulings in lower courts.

Last week, the High Court in London said the decision was inherently political and “not a matter for the courts.” But Scotland’s highest civil court ruled Wednesday that the shutdown was illegal “because it had the purpose of stymieing Parliament.”

Johnson insists he suspended Parliament so that he can launch a fresh domestic agenda at a new session next month. He said he had “absolutely not” misled the queen — whose formal approval was needed to suspend Parliament — about his motives. Critics say Johnson must resign if it turns out he lied to the monarch, who is Britain’s head of state and is bound to act on the advice of her prime ministers.

In Northern Ireland, claimants had argued that a no-deal Brexit would undermine agreements between the British and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process. A no-deal Brexit could lead to the return of a hard border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. An open border is crucial to the regional economy and underpins the peace process that ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Judge Bernard McCloskey ruled that the “claim and counterclaim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow” of the raging Brexit arguments belonged in the world of politics, not law.

“Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national,” he said. If the claimants appeal the ruling, the case could join the two other legal challenges to Johnson’s Brexit plans before the Supreme Court next week.

Johnson said Thursday he was “working very hard” to strike a new deal with the bloc after the agreement made by his predecessor Theresa May was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament. Johnson’s envoy David Frost has been holding talks in Brussels this week but no breakthrough has been made, and the EU says it is still waiting for firm proposals from the U.K.

“The U.K. hasn’t proposed any alternatives and anything that’s been legally credible and workable,” said European Parliament President David Sassoli. The bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told reporters that “we are still ready to examine objectively any concrete and legally operational proposals from the U.K.”

Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

Prince Charles opens new London hospital for virus patients

April 03, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles remotely opened a vast temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients at London’s main exhibition center Friday, as the number of coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.K. surpassed China’s official total.

While confirmed virus cases and deaths continued to rise steeply, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he remained in isolation with a fever eight days after testing positive for the new virus. Charles, who on Monday completed a week of self-isolating as he recovered from COVID-19, said via video link that he was “enormously touched” to be asked to open the new Nightingale Hospital, which was built in just nine days at the vast ExCel conference center in east London, with corridors stretching a full kilometer (just over half a mile).

It opens with around 500 beds but when at its expected full capacity of 4,000 beds, it will be the biggest hospital facility in the U.K.. Charles, 71, paid tribute to everyone, including military personnel, involved in its “spectacular and almost unbelievable” construction.

“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” he said from his home in Scotland, Birkhall.

The new National Health Service hospital will only care for people with COVID-19, and patients will only be assigned there after their local London hospital reaches its capacity. Charles described himself as one of “the lucky ones” with only mild symptoms but noted “for some it will be a much harder journey.”

He expressed his hope that the hospital “is needed for as short a time and for as few people as possible.” The hospital is named after Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered to be the founder of modern nursing. She was in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s, her selfless care earning her the reputation of the “Lady with the Lamp.”

Further new hospitals are being planned across the U.K., including in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, to alleviate pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact (that) in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also contracted COVID-19 and emerged from his own self-isolation on Thursday.

Hancock said the peak of the epidemic in Britain is likely to be in the “coming weeks” and could be as soon as next weekend. The number of virus-related deaths in Britain has sharply increased in the past two weeks. Government figures provided Friday showed that a total of 3,605 people who tested positive have died in British hospitals, an increase of 684 from a day earlier.

The government’s updated count would make the U.K. the latest country with a higher death toll from the worldwide pandemic than China, which according to a Johns Hopkins University tally officially reported 3,326 deaths from the outbreak that emerged there in December.

Buckingham Palace said Charles’ 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has recorded an address to the nation and the Commonwealth about the coronavirus pandemic to be broadcast on Sunday. Like many other countries, Britain is in effective lockdown, with bars and nonessential shops closed in order to reduce the rate of transmission, the hope being that ithis will eventually reduce the peak in deaths.

In a video message, the prime minister warned people not to break self-isolation rules on what is expected to be a warm, sunny weekend. Johnson acknowledged that “everybody may be getting a bit stir-crazy” but urged Britons not to flout rules against gathering in groups. He said the country “has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice” and people should continue to follow rules in order to save lives.

Johnson, who appeared flushed and red-eyed in the video, has been working from quarantine in his Downing Street apartment since testing positive on March 26. He continues to hold daily meetings on the virus crisis by video conference.

Johnson said Friday that although he was “feeling better,” he still had a fever and was following guidance to stay in isolation until his temperature returned to normal.

Prince Harry walks through Angola mine field, echoing Diana

September 27, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A body armor-wearing Prince Harry on Friday followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.

The prince walked through a dusty mine field marked with skull-and-crossbones warning signs, and was visiting the spot where Diana was famously photographed on a similar walk during her own Africa visit in 1997. That field in Huambo is now a busy street. The southern African nation is now years past a grinding civil war and hopes to be land mine-free by 2025, a goal of scores of countries around the world.

“Land mines are an unhealed scar of war,” Harry said in the town of Dirico. “By clearing the land mines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.” He said retracing his mother’s path was “quite emotional.”

Diana’s visit is still very much discussed today in Huambo after people were struck by her warmth and willingness to acknowledge their country’s devastating 27-year conflict, the Angola country director for mine-clearing organization The HALO Trust said.

“The main impact of Diana’s walk in 1997 was the level of global exposure it provided for land mines not only in Angola but the world,” Ralph Legg said. She was a great advocate for a land mine ban, and “her willingness to visit an actual mine field, to place herself right in that context, provided great impetus and gave it a great boost.”

The international ban on anti-personnel mines was signed that year and entered into force two years later. So far 164 countries have signed on. “More than 48 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed and 31 countries have been completely cleared of land mines,” The HALO Trust said, while production of the weapons has almost dried up.

Harry on his visit also remotely detonated a decades-old mine, met with mine-clearing teams and was visiting the orthopedic hospital his mother visited for her meetings with mine victims. “I think that will be a very poignant moment of coming full circle,” Legg said. “Very striking once people compare those images from the two visits to see how far Angola has come.”

The world, however, is hardly free of mines, and the prince said Angola itself still has more than 1,000 mine fields left to clear, 22 years after his mother’s visit. “I wonder if she was still alive whether that would still be the case,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.”

Other countries that remain heavily mined include Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, and Afghanistan led the world with at least 2,300 casualties in 2017, according to the Landmine Monitor 2018 report.

“Myanmar was the only known instance of government forces actively planting the weapons” in the year-long period between October 2017 and 2018, the report said. “A staggering 60 million people around the world still live in fear and risk of land mines. We cannot turn our backs on them and leave a job half done,” Harry said.

Angola, which has committed a new $60 million for mine clearance, now hopes to turn some of its mine-free areas into sites for wildlife conservation and ecotourism. The prince was unveiling a project meant to protect wildlife corridors near the sprawling Okavango Delta, a rare inland delta in neighboring Botswana that doesn’t flow into a sea or ocean and is home to several endangered species.

Harry called on for international effort to help clear mines from the Okavango watershed in Angola. “Everyone who recognizes the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa’s most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission,” he said.

His first official family tour with his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their baby, Archie, will continue with stops in Malawi and further events in South Africa with a focus on issues including mental health and women’s empowerment.

Emperor performs ritual to report abdication to Shinto gods

April 18, 2019

TOKYO (AP) — Emperor Akihito prayed at a Japanese shrine Thursday in a ritual to report his upcoming abdication to the Shinto gods. The 85-year-old emperor will retire on April 30 in the first abdication in 200 years and a rarity in Japan’s ancient imperial history.

Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed to the Chrysanthemum throne May 1. Akihito performed the “Shinetsu no Gi” ritual at Ise Shrine in western Japan as part of the succession process. Akihito in a tuxedo headed into the shrine, with palace officials holding up two imperial treasures — sword and jewel. The third, a mirror, is kept at the shrine. The treasures were brought from the palace in Tokyo and traveled with the emperor. The regalia, or three treasures, will be handed to Naruhito after his succession.

His daughter and head shrine priest, Sayako Kuroda, also attended. Ise Shrine was a center of Japan’s wartime emperor worship that still attracts political and business leaders today. Japanese emperors were once believed to be direct descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who is enshrined at Ise and who sits at the top of “yaoyorozu,” or 8 million gods of all things in Shinto. Rituals at Ise Shrine are intended for the imperial family, and the emperor was the head priest until 1945 while Shinto was the state religion and the emperor was said to be a living god.

Shinto, a religion perhaps as old as Japan itself, is a rich blend of folklore, reverence for all things natural and the Japanese nation.

Newly crowned Thai king begins 2nd day of coronation events

May 05, 2019

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has launched the second day of coronation activities with a ceremony to grant new titles to members of the royal family. Vajiralongkorn on Saturday took part in an elaborate set of rituals, a mix of Buddhist and Hindu Brahmanic traditions, which established his status as a full-fledged monarch with complete regal powers. He had already been serving as king since the October 2016 death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The 66-year-old Vajiralongkorn began Sunday morning’s event before dignitaries in a hall at Bangkok’s Grand Palace by paying respects in front of portraits of his late father and mother, who has been hospitalized for an extended period. His mother, who was Bhumibol’s queen, was granted a new official title of Queen Mother.

As coronation begins, Thai king’s future role still unclear

May 03, 2019

BANGKOK (AP) — Three days of elaborate centuries-old ceremonies begin Saturday for the formal coronation of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has been on the throne for more than two years. What Vajiralongkorn — also known as King Rama X, the 10th king of the Chakri dynasty — will do with the power and influence the venerated status confers is still not clear.

The 66-year-old monarch has sent mixed signals. Bursts of assertiveness alternate with a seemingly hands off approach in other matters — a perception girded by the amount of time he spends at a large residence in Germany.

On Wednesday, he suddenly announced his fourth marriage, to a former flight attendant who is a commander of his security detail, and appointed her Queen Suthida. The timing of the announcement, just ahead of his coronation, suggests a new commitment to his royal duties.

But he is likely to remain burdened by old gossip about his personal life that has dogged him since returning from his education in England and Australia. Many Thais are familiar with tales about his alleged exploits while he was crown prince, even though harsh laws mandate a prison term of three to 15 years for anyone found guilty of insulting the monarchy.

Vajiralongkorn early on was pinned with the reputation of a playboy, a trait that even his own mother acknowledged. He has gone through bitter divorces with three women who have borne him seven children.

His father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej — the only monarch most Thais had known when he died in October 2016 after seven decades on the throne — won most of his countrymen’s deep love and respect as an exemplar of rectitude and an avid cheerleader for his country’s economic development. His three sisters are frequently engaged in public service.

“The defining years saw King Bhumibol spending large amounts of time in provincial Thailand, visiting ordinary people,” said Michael Montesano, coordinator of the Thailand Studies Program at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. “We have yet to see similar behavior on the part of his heir.”

Paul Chambers, a political scientist at Naraesuan University in northern Thailand, finds Vajiralongkorn’s style “more hands off,” even as he has brought more of Thailand’s administration directly under the palace.

Vajiralongkorn’s early actions as king included replacing his late father’s loyalists with his own in key palace posts. Some of those he fired were called lazy, or arrogant, and in some cases, guilty of “extremely evil behavior.”

“The new king is a very decisive man, and he’s a very daring man, unlike his father,” asserts Sulak Sivaraksa, a conservative social critic. “His father was on the whole, a very quiet person, and he ‘suffered fools (gladly)’ around him. He knew (if) somebody cheated him and so, but he was very tolerant.”

There have been suggestions that the new king’s purges amount to an anti-corruption campaign. Such a case can be made, acknowledges Montesano. “But the same actions also appear to bespeak an interest in gaining or exerting greater control over certain institutions,” Montesano said. “That possible motive must be kept in mind.”

There is little question that Vajiralongkorn has tightened control over royal institutions and what amounts to political privileges. He surprised the country’s ruling junta when, “to ensure his royal powers,” he requested changes to a new constitution that had already been approved in a referendum. They acquiesced.

The powers he acquired centralize royal authority in his hands and make explicit his right to intervene in government affairs, especially in times of political crisis. Vajiralongkorn has also sought to shore up the palace’s finances, previously controlled by a vast and somewhat creaky bureaucracy. The palace’s fortune, estimated by sources such as Forbes magazine to be in the neighborhood of $30 billion, is largely controlled by the Crown Property Bureau, a professionally managed holding company with large stakes in real estate, banking and industry.

Vajiralongkorn instituted changes giving him tighter control to personally manage the bureau and its holdings. Vajiralongkorn’s greatest challenge is likely to be sorting out the palace’s relationship with the military.

His father Bhumibol and the army worked out a delicate balance of power, with the palace arguably holding the stronger hand, especially after a 1973 pro-democracy uprising temporarily discredited military rule. The army’s declared mission of protecting the monarchy became its shield against criticism.

But as Bhumibol’s health declined in the last decade and a half of his life, that balance began to shift. Now, with the army entrenched in government for five years after staging a coup in 2014, things seem to have shifted more in the military’s favor.

Vajiralongkorn has supporters in the military. He was educated at military academies, took part in 1970s counterinsurgency action against the Communist Party of Thailand, and is a qualified pilot in the air force, the service he is closest to.

There are special army units directly under the palace’s command, and Vajiralongkorn has augmented their strength. “He has sought to bring more army units under his personal control,” said Chambers. “Prior to his father’s death, the junta leaders seemed to have acted for the ailing and aged king but they were becoming too big for their britches, so to speak. Hence the new sovereign wanted to ensure personalized monarchical control over the military.”

Vajiralongkorn’s actions help restore the balance of palace-barracks relations and “reflect a diminution of the army’s own influence,” agrees Montesano. The relationship, however, is a two-way street. An election held under the junta in March has been widely seen as rigged to favor the military and its preferred candidate, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup and has headed the government since then.

When Vajiralongkorn’s older sister, Princess Ubolratana, lent her support to Prayuth’s opponents by agreeing to be their candidate for prime minister, the king immediately clamped down, declaring the action unconstitutional. He also issued a statement on the eve of the election saying that people should support “good people” to prevent “bad people” from gaining power and causing chaos, words that seemed to echo the junta’s justification for taking power following years of political tensions and occasional violence.

He is likely to be embroiled in the political battle again just a few days after his coronation, when election results are supposed to be certified and will almost certainly be challenged by the losers.

The Thai people, said Sulak, will probably be peaceful and “full of joy” during the coronation ceremony period. “But I’m not sure afterwards,” he said.

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