Thailand princess, in line to become queen, relinquishes her royal title

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The wife of Thailand's crown prince has relinquished her royal title, culminating a dramatic fall from grace that means she is no longer in line to become the Southeast Asian country's next queen.

While the reason for Princess Srirasm's decision wasn't clear, it follows revelations last month that several members of her family were detained in a high-profile corruption scandal.

A brief statement from the palace's Royal Gazette that was made public late Friday said Srirasm, the third wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, had asked permission to give up her royal status. The statement gave no reason for the move, but said 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej had approved the request.

Thailand's strict lese majeste laws, which carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for anyone accused of defaming the monarchy, essentially prevent local and international media based in the country from reporting freely on the subject.

Srirasm has been married to Vajiralongkorn since 2001. Although there was no confirmation of a divorce, there has been speculation that the removal of the royal title means the pair has officially split.

The couple have a 9-year-old son who could potentially have become king himself one day since Vajiralongkorn is the current heir to the throne.

The removal of Srirasm's title was expected after Vajiralongkorn last month asked the government to strip several members of her family, including her uncle, of their royally issued surnames following the corruption allegations. The accused are facing charges ranging from bribery to extortion and using the monarchy's name for personal benefit.

The news comes at a sensitive time for the monarchy, with Bhumibol — the world's longest-reigning monarch — in poor health and the country under military rule since a May 22 coup toppled an elected government.

Thailand celebrated Bhumibol's birthday on Dec. 5, but the monarch failed to make an expected public appearance.