Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, the elder sister of Thailand’s king is running to become prime minister, it has been announced.
The decision is unprecedented as it marks a move away from tradition which dictates the country’s royals do not play a role in politics.
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, will run as a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party.
The party is loyal to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and is attempting to defeat Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of Thailand’s military junta, in the election on 24 March.
The election is seen by many as a battle between Mr Thaksin’s populists and allies and the royalist-military establishment.
But the nomination of Princess Ubolratana, 67, by Thai Raksa Chart could challenge the dynamic of the election.
It is not known if Princess Ubolratana’s candidacy has the blessing of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Despite being a constitutional monarchy since 1932, the royal family remains extremely influential across the country.
Thai Raksa Chart’s leader Preechapol Pongpanich said: “The party has nominated the princess as its sole candidate.
“She is knowledgeable and is highly suitable.
“I believe there will be no legal problems in terms of her qualification, but we have to wait for the Election Commission to endorse her candidacy.”
Her rival Mr Prayuth, the current Thai leader, accepted his nomination from the Palang Pracharat Party and issued a statement.
“I am not aiming to extending my power but I am doing this for the benefit for the country and the people,” he said.
Swiss-born Princess Ubolratana studied mathematics and biochemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded a masters degree in public health from the University of California.
She relinquished her royal titles in 1972 after marrying an American student. They lived in the US for more than 26 years but divorced in 1998.
She returned to Thailand in 2001 and continued carrying out royal duties but never regained her full titles.
She has also starred in several soap operas and films.