Thai Royal Family Succession Crisis Continues: Can Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse Succeed His Father?

the second son of thai king maha vajiralongkorn,
Thai Royal Family Succession Crisis ContinuesSOPA Images - Getty Images

Last summer, King Maha Vajiralongkorn's second-eldest son, Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, made a surprise return to Thailand after living abroad for nearly three decades. The visit was widely seen as an indication that Vivacharawongse could be the frontrunner to succeed his father.

But that may be thrown into question, according to a new Daily Beast report. Vivacharawongse, 42, is married to Elisa Garafano, an American woman. Per the report, "Marriage to a foreign citizen is a bar to taking the throne under Thai law." Vivacharawongse (nicknamed "Vach") and Garafano reportedly have two children, who are U.S. citizens, further complicating future succession to the Thai throne. Garafano did reportedly file for divorce, but suspended the proceedings. Vach told the Daily Beast in a statement, "Action for divorce was filed and was not withdrawn."

A source who knows the family tells the Daily Beast, "Vach is still married to Elisa and they do still live together, but he very much wants to keep that fact, and the fact of their children, secret because of the impact it would have on his ambition to win the throne."

topshot thailand royals coronation
King Maha Vajiralongkorn at his coronation procession, 2019.LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA - Getty Images

Vivacharawongse was exiled in 1996, when his father divorced his mother, Sujiranee Vivacharawongse. He and three brothers were sent to live abroad, without formal royal titles or place in the line of succession. His younger sister, Princess Sirivanavari, returned to live in Thailand.

For years, it was widely expected that King Vajiralongkorn's eldest daughter, Bajrakitiyabha, would be his heir. But after she collapsed in December 2022, and reportedly remains in a coma, the question of succession emerged. His eldest son (and Vach's older brother), Juthavachara Vivacharawongse, was ruled out previously because of his marriage to an American woman.

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