BANGKOK - Thailand has a new queen just in time for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin ceremonies this weekend in Bangkok.

The 66-year-old king unexpectedly married the deputy commander of his personal bodyguard unit on Wednesday in a surprise ceremony, giving her the title Queen Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhaya.

Suthida, 40, is expected to participate in some of the coronation events.

Here are some facts about the new queen from the palace’s household bureau, past royal decrees and media.

- She was born June 3, 1978, as Suthida Tidjai.

- She graduated from Assumption University, a private university in Bangkok, with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 2000, according to the Thai Rath newspaper.

- She worked as a flight attendant at Thai Airways before joining the protection unit of then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

- Criticizing or insulting her is a crime under Thailand’s lese majeste laws, which carry punishment of up to 15 years in prison. The king, queen, heir to the throne and regent are covered under the law.

- She already held the rank of general in the Royal Thai Army before her marriage, having been promoted to the position in December 2016 by King Vajiralongkorn by royal decree shortly after he took the throne following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

- Before the wedding, she was deputy commander of the King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment. The king himself is commander of the unit, and he first designated her to the special officer unit of Crown Prince’s Bodyguard Regiment in 2013.

- She made her debut on Royal News, a nightly segment about the king and his family aired on all Thai television channels, on Wednesday, hours after her wedding.

- The wedding came as a surprise to many Thais because the palace had never previously acknowledged any personal relationship between her and King Vajiralongkorn, who has previously been married and divorced three times.

- 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.

- During this weekend’s coronation, the king is likely to bestow his new bride with new royal titles. It is a tradition for a new monarch to grant new titles to family members.

Thailand's coronation ceremonies for King Maha Vajiralongkorn on May 4-6 will be the first the Southeast Asian nation has seen in 69 years, when the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned in 1950.

A monarch’s coronation is given the utmost priority in Thailand, where kings have traditionally long held a divine status, and that is reflected in some astounding numbers.

- 1,000,000,000 - Total cost in Thai baht of the coronation ceremonies, equal to about $31.2 million (£23.85 million).

- 69 - Years since Thailand’s last coronation, in 1950.

- 12 - The 12th coronation for kings of the reigning Chakri dynasty.

- Up to 200,000 - The number of citizens expected to line streets in Bangkok to view the ceremony. Millions will watch on television.

- 40,000 - Security personnel deployed during the ceremonies.

- 41,000 - Temples nationwide where monks will pray simultaneously and bless the king as he receives a golden plaque with his official name and title.

- 17,568 - Number of royal volunteers in Bangkok across the three days of the coronation.

- 795 - Number of “salute” gunpowder pellets fired by the armed forces - including army, navy, and air force - separately over three days of the ceremonies.

- 1,000,000 - value in baht (about $31,340) of one limited-edition platinum coin to mark the coronation. More than 200 orders have been made.


- 10:09 - The time in the morning when coronation ceremonies officially begin on Saturday with purification rites. Nine is an especially auspicious number in Thai culture.

- 117 - Sources of water from around the country that have been brought to Bangkok to be blessed by Buddhist monks before being combined for the royal purification rituals on May 4. The sources include five major rivers, four sacred pools, across 77 provinces.

- 8 - Sides of the wood-carved throne on which the king will sit to receive the waters of purification. The eight sides represent cardinal and ordinal directions on a compass. The number eight is also auspicious.

- 1,000 - Streams of water that will from the canopied fountain that showers the king’s head in the ablution ceremony.

- 7.3 - Weight in kilograms, equal to 16 pounds, of the intricate gold-and-gem-inlaid crown that will be placed on the king’s head in the ceremony. The multi-tiered crown is 66 centimeters (26 inches) tall.

- 9 - Tiers of the royal umbrella under which the king will officially ascend to become a living god according to Thai beliefs.

- 4 - Ancient cannons from the 19th century, used specifically for the coronation, which will fire 10 volleys each.

- 343 - Personnel physically carrying the king in a royal palanquin from the Grand Palace to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to proclaim himself the Royal Patron of Buddhism, ending the first day of the ceremony.


- More than 1,300 - Number of personnel and officials in the Royal Procession, including the prime minister, members of the cabinet, a cavalry, and a marching band.

- 7 - Distance in kilometers the royal procession will cover on foot, from the Grand Palace to three temples and back, walking at about 75 steps per minute.

- 16 - Personnel carrying the royal palanquin, changing every 500 meters.

- 500 - Length of the royal procession of more than 1,300 personnel, in meters.

- 6 - Royal songs composed by late King Bhumibol that will be played by the marching band in the royal procession.