BANGKOK (AP) — The estranged son of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited a daycare center for underprivileged children in Bangkok on Tuesday after making a surprise return to the country after living abroad for 27 years.
Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse’s return was first revealed in a video posted online on Sunday showing him being greeted by well-wishers in the arrivals hall of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
His return came at a sensitive time for the Thai royal family, as the king’s eldest daughter has been in a coma since December.
The 42-year-old, who works at a New York law firm, is the second son of King Vajiralongkorn with his second wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, a former actress. The then crown prince divorced Sujarinee in 1996, who was publicly accused of adultery. Sujarinee and her children later moved abroad. The younger daughter was taken back by the royal family and given the title Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, but the four sons remain estranged and have no formal royal titles.
The palace has not commented on his visit.
Vacharaesorn went to the Foundation for Slum Child Care and donated money to support their work, according to the foundation’s Facebook post, in which he said he “greatly greeted the children and took a keen interest in the foundation’s work helping underprivileged children and help families.”
Pictures posted showed Vacharaesorn hugging children and talking closely to them.
A day after his arrival, Vacharaesorn was featured in videos visiting several religious sites in Bangkok, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace. He posted a photo of himself riding an auto rickshaw at night with the caption “Bangkok Tuk-Tuk” on his Facebook account.
King Vajiralongkorn, 71, has been married four times and has seven children, but has not named an official heir. His fourth marriage to Queen Suthida was announced just days before his coronation in 2019. The king took the crown after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016.
In December, the palace said Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, 44, had collapsed due to cardiac arrhythmia, later said to be a mycoplasma infection. She has been unconscious and has been on a ventilator ever since, according to the palace’s latest statement on her condition in January.