In a week marked by Thailand’s ongoing governmental negotiations, the unexpected homecoming of a 42-year-old Thai lawyer has captivated the nation’s attention. Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, the second son of King Vajiralongkorn, has made a surprise return to his birth country after spending 27 years in the United States.
Long thought to have been stripped of their royal titles and excluded from the line of succession, Vacharaesorn and his three estranged brothers have resided abroad for decades. However, the situation took a new turn when Princess Bajrakitiyabha, the king’s eldest daughter and a potential successor, fell into a coma last December, leaving the issue of succession in uncertainty.
Rumors of the rehabilitation and reintegration of one of the estranged sons have circulated within Thailand for years. While there hasn’t been any official confirmation from the palace, Vacharaesorn’s unexpected return might herald the beginning of such a process.
Vacharaesorn is the offspring of King Vajiralongkorn’s second wife, Sujiranee, an ex-actress with whom the king parted ways in 1996. Alongside his three brothers, Vacharaesorn was effectively exiled from Thailand while studying in the UK, finding refuge in the US. In contrast, his sister, Princess Sirivanavari, was brought back to Thailand to reside with the king.
Throughout the years, the four estranged sons intermittently published letters beseeching reconciliation with their father and requesting permission to return home, yet these appeals yielded no results.
During his initial days in Bangkok, Vacharaesorn embraced his role as both a tourist and a potential royal figure. He savored the sights and flavors of the city, from its temples to its cuisine, and even took a tuk-tuk ride. His return was characterized as a dream come true by the elated lawyer.
Beyond his personal explorations, Vacharaesorn also participated in what appeared to be official functions. He met with the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist Sangha, Thailand’s senior religious leader appointed by his father, and visited a childcare center backed by the palace.
Stateside, Vacharaesorn has been the most visible among his siblings, actively engaging with the Thai community and publicly supporting the Thai monarchy. His return raises the possibility that he might be the one best suited and interested in assuming a more prominent role within the royal family.
While the palace has yet to make a formal statement on Vacharaesorn’s visit and its implications, his sudden reappearance has ignited speculation about the potential reintegration of the once-estranged royal son into the fold.