Thai crown prince strips wife's kin of royal name

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Thailand Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn
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Thai crown prince strips wife's kin of royal name
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2007 file photo, Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, right, chats with his royal consort Princess Srirasm as they watch a parade at the historic Merdeka square in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has asked the government to strip his wife's family of their royally issued surname, the latest development in a high-profile crackdown that involves senior members of the police force. The move came after at least three of Princess Srirasm's relatives were arrested as part of the probe. In a letter dated Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 but released over the weekend, the crown prince ordered the "cancellation of the royally bestowed family name 'Akrapongpreecha,'" which was issued after the pair married in 2001. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)
British Prince Andrew, left, shakes hands with Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, right, as his royal consort Princess Srirasm, center, looks on during a parade at the historic Merdeka Square in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Friday, Aug. 31, 2007. Malaysia marked 50 years of independence from Britain Friday with dances and parades. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Princess Srirasm of Thailand arrives at Windsor Castle, west of London, on May 18, 2012, for a Sovereign's Jubilee Lunch hosted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. A glittering lunch for the world's sovereigns to be held on Friday to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been marked by a withdrawal and protests over the guest list. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Jack Hill (Photo credit should read JACK HILL/AFP/GettyImages)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Princess Srirasm of Thailand attends a dinner for foreign Sovereigns to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace on May 18, 2012 in London, England. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall hosted the event. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Rawalpindi, PAKISTAN: Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) is accompanied by his Consort Princess Srirasm (L) as they arrive at Chaklala Airbase in Rawalpindi, 04 January 2006. The Crown Prince, accompanied by his Royal Consort,has arrived in Pakistan for a two day visit to present additional relief assistance for the earthquake victims on behalf of Their Majesties, The King and Queen of Thailand. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake on 08 October, killed more than 73,000 people and left more than three million homeless. AFP PHOTO/Aamir QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attends the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, to mark the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season, at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on May 13, 2013. Based on what sacred oxen ate during the ceremony, court astrologers and seers predicted a good harvest, an abundance of food and plentiful water. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 30: Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand and his sister Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand arrive at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam for the inauguration ceremony of King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands, on April 30, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - DECEMBER 05: Thailand's Queen Sirikit and Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn follow King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as he returns from The Grand Palace to Siriraj Hospital on December 5, 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand. King Bhumibol is celebrating his 84th birthday today and is Thailand's longest serving monarch, having reigned as King since 1946. (Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Of Thailand Fashion Collection In Paris, France On September 29, 2007 - Princess Sirivannavari, her father Crown prince of Thailand Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH princess Srirasmi and Finance Minister Chrisitine Lagarde attend a gala dinner at the Opera Garnier after the show - HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand, the grand-daughter of Queen Sirikit of Thailand, has been sponsored by the Haute Couture Maison Balmain to present her new collection at the Paris fashion week - The collection, called 'Presence of the past' will be shown to open the fashion week at the Opera Garnier - It is a mixture of thai culture and modernism - Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana claims she has been inspired by her grand-mother HH Queen Sirikit of Thailand, who used to wear Pierre Balmain creations. (Photo by Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Of Thailand Fashion Collection In Paris, France On September 29, 2007 - Princess Sirivannavari, her father Crown prince of Thailand Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH princess Srirasmi and Finance Minister Chrisitine Lagarde attend a gala dinner at the Opera Garnier after the show - HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand, the grand-daughter of Queen Sirikit of Thailand, has been sponsored by the Haute Couture Maison Balmain to present her new collection at the Paris fashion week - The collection, called 'Presence of the past' will be shown to open the fashion week at the Opera Garnier - It is a mixture of thai culture and modernism - Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana claims she has been inspired by her grand-mother HH Queen Sirikit of Thailand, who used to wear Pierre Balmain creations. (Photo by Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in Paris, France on September 29, 2007. (Photo by Pierre HOUNSFIELD/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in Paris, France on September 29, 2007. (Photo by Pierre HOUNSFIELD/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 29: HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and family in Paris, France on September 29, 2007. (Photo by Pierre HOUNSFIELD/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Bangkok, THAILAND: Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn addresses officials and newly appointed lawmakers at the inauguration ceremony of the National Legislative Assembly at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok, 20 October 2006. Thailand's crown prince convened a new parliament appointed by the leaders of last month's coup, dominated by military officials, retired bureaucrats and academics. THAILAND OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Thai royal family, (L to R) King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn & Queen Sirikit receives respects from attending dignitaries, appearing at a balcony of Anantasamakom Throne Hall, 05 December 1999 to mark the King's birthday. The world's longest-reigning monarch celebrated his 72nd birthday, which marks the start of seventh Buddhist cycle believed to be auspicious for Thai people. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Pornchai KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (L) walks down a flight of stairs, 05 December 1999, on his way to the ceremony marking his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 72nd birthday at Anantasamakom Throne Hall. Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his 72nd birthday, which marks the start of seventh Buddhist cycle believed to be auspicious for Thai people. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Pornchai KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND: Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn(L) and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn(R) sit in a barg during start a celebrate of the Royal Barge in the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok on 04 Novermber 1999. The royal barge is honouring the King's 72nd Birthday. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Pornchai KITTIWONGSAKUL. (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)
SANAM LUANG, BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2004/05/07: Thailand's Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, watches over the royal ploughing ceremony at the Royal Field (Sanam Luang). The ceremony is used to predict if the coming year's rice harvest will be plentiful or not. The annual event takes place in May. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, an ancient rite dating back to the 13th century, heralds the start of the new rice-growing season. Thailand, known for its fragrant Jasmine rice, is the world's leading exporter of rice and one of the centers of rice biodiversity. The year 2004 is designated by the UN as International Year of Rice in dedication to the crop that feeds more than half of the world's population. In countries across Asia, rice is the foundation of community life, customs, religious activities, festivals, and delightful cuisine. However, according to Greenpeace, Asia's rice diversity is under threat with the approval of the first genetically engineered rice in the US. . (Photo by Yvan Cohen/LightRocket via Getty Images)
King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand with their children at King's Beeches, their private residence in Sunninghill, Berkshire, 27th July 1966. From left to right, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the King, Princess Sirindhorn, the Queen, Princess Chulabhorn and Princess Ubol Ratana. (Photo by Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images)
King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand with their son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at King's Beeches, their private residence in Sunninghill, Berkshire, 27th July 1966. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Central Press/Getty Images)
King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand with their children at King's Beeches, their private residence in Sunninghill, Berkshire, 27th July 1966. From left to right, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Sirindhorn, Princess Chulabhorn, the Queen, the King and Princess Ubolratana. (Photo by Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images)
King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand with their children at King's Beeches, their private residence in Sunninghill, Berkshire, 27th July 1966. From left to right, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the King, Princess Sirindhorn, the Queen, Princess Chulabhorn and Princess Ubol Ratana. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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BANGKOK (AP) - Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has asked the government to strip his wife's family of their royally issued surname, the latest development in a high-profile crackdown that involves senior members of the police force.

The move came after at least three relatives of the crown prince's wife, Princess Srirasm, were arrested last week as part of the corruption probe.

The probe has attracted national attention in Thailand, where the private lives of the royal family are kept discreet. But many questions remain unanswered, primarily because of strict lese majeste laws that carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for insulting the monarchy.

In a letter dated Friday but released over the weekend, the crown prince ordered the "cancellation of the royally bestowed family name 'Akrapongpreecha,'" which was issued after the pair married in 2001. The brief letter, which was sent to the Interior Ministry, gave no explanation for the action.

National police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri confirmed the letter's authenticity.

Srirasm is the crown prince's third wife and was last seen in public a week ago at a royal ceremony alongside her husband. They have a 9-year-old son, who is a presumed heir to the throne.

The crackdown has included the arrest of at least eight police officers, who face serious charges ranging from bribery and extortion to defaming the monarchy.

Thailand's police department has a reputation as one of the country's most corrupt institutions.

The junta that has ruled the country since toppling an elected government on May 22 claims it is prioritizing the fight against corruption, but critics say graft remains institutionalized and the army's real goal is to cripple political rivals led by self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

The crackdown comes at a sensitive time for the monarchy with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, the world's longest-reigning monarch, in poor health.

Worries about the king's health and succession have contributed to Thailand's political instability over the past eight years. As the wife of the crown prince, Srirasm would potentially become the next queen of Thailand.


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