1. ITV Report

Thai princess to run for prime minister

Thai Princess Ubolratana is to stand for election as prime minister. Credit: AP

A Thai political party has named a princess as its nominee to be the next prime minister, upending tradition the royal palace plays no public role in politics.

The selection of 67-year-old Princess Ubolratana Mahidol by the Thai Raksa Chart Party marks a shock realignment of Thai politics.

Her selection to lead the government after the March 24 general election also pits her against the preferred candidate of the military, which is considered one of Thailand’s most royalist institutions.

Current prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup that ousted Thailand’s last elected government, accepted his selection as candidate to lead the next government by Palang Pracharat Party, widely considered a proxy for the military.

The princess is the first-born child of the late King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.

Although her father’s favourite, she was virtually disowned by him in 1972 when she married an American who was a fellow student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Leader of Thai Raksa Chart party Preecha Pholphongpanich holds a picture of Princess Ubolratana at election commission of Thailand. Credit: AP

Ms Mahidol lost two of her royal titles and lived in the United States, where she and her husband, Peter Jensen, had three children.

Only after a bitter divorce did she move back permanently to Thailand in 2001.

Since then she has thrown herself into charity work, especially her foundation to fight youth drug abuse.

She also frequently promotes Thai tourism and movies at international forums.

Thai politics for more than a decade has been shaken by violent street protests and coups, but those are familiar events in Thai history.

However, the death in 2016 of King Bhumibol Adulyadej added a major element of uncertainty, as he had served as a stabilising force since taking the throne in 1946.