Thai king marries his bodyguard
The surprise announcement was carried in the Royal Gazette, and footage from the wedding ceremony was later shown on the nightly Royal News segment aired on all Thai television channels.
Vajiralongkorn, 66, also known by the title King Rama X, became constitutional monarch after the death of his revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in October 2016, after 70 years on the throne.
He is due to be officially crowned in elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin ceremonies on May 4, followed by a procession through Bangkok the next day.
In 2014, Vajiralongkorn appointed Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant for Thai Airways, as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit.
Some royal observers and foreign media had linked Suthida romantically with the king, but the palace had previously never acknowledged a relationship between them.
The king made Suthida a full general in the Royal Thai Army in December 2016, and the deputy commander of the king's personal guard in 2017. He also made her a Thanpuying, a royal title meaning Lady.
She has been awarded royal honors in 20 royal decrees, the first in 2012 when King Bhumibol awarded her the Order of the White Elephant for her "honesty, loyalty and responsibility ... dedication and sacrifice" in service to then Prince Vajiralongkorn. The royal decree named her as Lieutenant Colonel Suthida Vajiralongkorn.
Among the dignitaries at the wedding were Prayuth Chanocha, the leader of the military junta that has run Thailand since a 2014 army coup, as well as other members of the royal family and palace advisers, the wedding footage showed. Vajiralongkorn has previously been married and divorced three times and has seven children.
While the king took the throne after the death of his father, his formal coronation follows a mourning period for King Bhumibol, whose royal cremation was held a year after his death.