Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also called King Rama X, has taken personal control of two key military units via a royal decree which took effect on Tuesday.
These two units (Bangkok-based 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments) are now under the direct command of the palace (Royal Security Command). They will now report directly to the King and his wife, Queen Suthida, the latter of whom is the unit’s deputy commander.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha signed the order which cited article 172 of the constitution; said article allows for a royal decree to be issued to take control under an emergency that threatens national security and the monarchy. It was allowed to become law without going through parliament.
The emergency allowing for this order was not announced. The King is the commander-in-chief of the military but this action bypasses normal actions and the chain of command.
Thailand has strict lèse-majesté laws where any criticism of the monarchy and Thai Royal Family are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The Thai King is also so revered he is seen as a god and was installed as a divine monarch at his coronation earlier this year. So, the Thais are unlikely to question this move.
King Rama X, 67, ascended the throne after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016. His elaborate coronation took place in May of this year.