BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s crown prince has revoked the royally-assigned family name of his wife, following the arrest of several of her relatives in a high-profile corruption case.
News about the monarchy is heavily filtered by the palace, and under the lèse-majesté laws, the world’s harshest, anything deemed an insult or a threat to the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The office of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 62, issued a statement on Friday ordering the Interior Ministry to strip the family of Princess Srirasmi, 42, of the royal-appointed surname Akharaphongpreecha.
“Individuals using the royal-appointed last name must change back to their old family name,” the office said in the statement.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is the first in line for the Thai throne. His father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is widely revered by Thais, is 86.
The Thai monarchy can bestow honorary names to families in return for service under a 1915 law.
Three people with the Akharaphongpreecha name were among 19 arrested in a crackdown on alleged police corruption this month in raids that netted tens of millions of dollars in assets.
Among those arrested was Police Lieutenant General Pongpat Chayaphan, a former head of Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau. Pongpat and several others were also charged for allegedly citing the monarchy for personal benefit.
Thailand has increasingly applied its lese-majeste laws since a military coup in May, although it is rare for high-ranking officials to fall afoul of them.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who led the coup and was appointed prime minister in August, is a self-proclaimed royalist and has vowed to root out critics of the monarchy.
Reporting by Bangkok Bureau; Editing by Clarence Fernandez