Thai princess to run for prime minister

Thailand election: Thai princess to stand as PM candidate

But the couple divorced and she moved back to Thailand where she is still considered part of the royal family.

The king's eldest sister has registered as a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party, an off-shoot of the Thaksin-backed Pheu Thai Party.

Most observers of Thai politics agree that Thaksin aggressively pursued good relations with Ubolratana's brother, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and friendship with the princess herself.

What is clear is that the strategy of the military faction which led the 2014 coup, in the name both of defending the monarchy and keeping pro-Thaksin forces out of government, is in pieces.

Ahead of the elections on March 24, Princess Ubolratana's move would be seen as one that could change the dynamic of Thailand's already uneasy political system.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932 but the royal family has wielded great influence and commanding the devotion of millions.

But the pro-Thaksin side was always likely to win the largest share of the seats; with a royal candidate for prime minister it has an additional, significant advantage, given the nearly instinctive reverence for royalty among many Thais.

Princess Ubolratana relinquished her royal status in 1972 after marrying an American.

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Party leader Paiboon Nititawan has handed a letter to the Election Commission calling on it to decide whether to invalidate the princess's nomination, saying it could breach the law that prevents political parties from using the monarchy for campaigning.

"She is knowledgeable and is highly suitable".

The surprise entry of his sister Ubolratana into politics - assumed to be with his blessing - raises questions about whether the long-lasting partnership of the palace with the army is in jeopardy.

The EC is required to endorse or reject all candidates by Feb 15, he said. "I want to reassure that I do not intend to hang on to power".

"Their supporters and the supporters of the elite have clashed many times over the past decade, so to now come to this stage to have a member of the royal family running to be potentially the prime minister for a party backed backed by the Shinawatras is definitely an intriguing development for Thai politics".

"She also travelled throughout Thailand and saw the people's suffering", an unofficial translation of the statement reads. She received her Bachelor of Science from MIT and went on to receive her Masters in public health at the University of California.

Ubolratana is known for her "To Be Number One" anti-drugs programme as well as starring in several soap operas and movies.

She returned permanently to Thailand in 2001, performing royal duties but never regaining her full royal titles. She and Jensen had three children, Ploypailin Mahidol Jensen, Bhumi Jensen - her son who died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at the age of 21 - and Sirikitiya Mai Jensen.

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