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Thai princess defies history by running for office

2019-02-08 21:23
Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, breaks the long-standing tradition of Thai royalty staying out of politics by entering March's election in an unprecedented move. Michelle Hennessy reports. A princess wants to be the next prime minister of Thailand - an unprecedented move in a country where royals traditionally stay out of politics. The general election this March will pit Thailand's royalist-military establishment against the populist movement - led by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The simmering conflict between those two sides has resulted in street protests, military coups, and violent clashes for almost 15 years. But - Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya has been declared a candidate for a party loyal to Thaksin's side. Something that could shake-up that traditional dynamic of Thai politics. Thaksin and his party have at times been accused by enemies of being opposed to the monarchy. Something Thaksin and allies have always rejected. Reuters hasn't been able to independently confirm that her nomination has the approval of the palace. One of her main opponents will be the leader of Thailand's military junta, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who has been in power since a military coup in 2014. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCESS OF THAILAND UBOLRATANA RAJAKANYA, SAYING: "You know I'm not like a princess in the true sense of the word not like Queen Elizabeth" The princess is the older sister of Thailand's King, Maha Vajiralongkorn. She relinquished her royal titles in the 70s when she married an American. But after their divorce she returned home to Thailand, where officials treat her as a member of the royal family. She's starred in several soap operas and movies, she's known for her charity work with young Thais, and is a prominent figure on social media. She'll still need to be endorsed by the Thai Election Commission, expected by next Friday (February 15).