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Thai king's second son says will return to kingdom

AFP | Bangkok       

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn's second son has said he wants to return to the kingdom permanently after living abroad for more than two decades, in an interview published Thursday.

Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse grew up in the United States following his parents' divorce in the 1990s, but he made an unexpected visit to Thailand in August last year.

The trip was closely followed by Thai media, but there was no official comment from the palace.

Now back in the country, the 42-year-old told the Bangkok Post he wanted to move back but insisted he had "no aspirations" of his own.

He said he was there "privately" and intended to make his return permanent.

"No one told me to come. I am not representing anyone," he said.

"I don't want to compete for anything... I have no resources, no power."

Vacharaesorn is the second of four sons from the king's second marriage to former actress Sujarinee Vivacharawongse. None hold official royal titles.

"I don't have aspirations beyond providing value in my own capacity," he told the Bangkok Post.

In recent weeks, he has shared Instagram images of visiting a temple in the northern city of Chiang Mai, as well as meeting the Lawyers Council of Thailand.

Vacharaesorn also told the newspaper he had obtained a Thai passport and ID, and would move from the United States -- where he works as a lawyer -- to live permanently in the kingdom.

The palace has not commented on the visit.

The king, who has seven children from four marriages, has not formally named an heir, though succession rules favour sons.

His eldest daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, remains in hospital after collapsing and losing consciousness in 2022.

The monarch and his close family are protected by Thailand's strict royal insult laws which shield them from almost all criticism and can carry heavy jail sentences.

In September, Vacharaesorn called for open discussion of the country's tough lese-majeste laws after visiting an exhibition in New York highlighting those persecuted under the legislation.

Critics have long maintained the laws have been weaponised to silence dissent.