CABLE: Palace Insider provides update on royal health issues

“129223”,”11/8/2007 9:36″,”07BANGKOK5738″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”SECRET//NOFORN”,
“07BANGKOK5717|07BANGKOK5718″,”VZCZCXRO1217
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #5738/01 3120936
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 080936Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0574
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC”,
“S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005738

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
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NSC FOR PHU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2017
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, KDEM, TH
SUBJECT: PALACE INSIDER PROVIDES UPDATE ON ROYAL HEALTH
ISSUES

REF: A. BANGKOK 5718 (KING LEAVES HOSPITAL)
B. BANGKOK 5717 (PPP CONCERNS)

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
——-

1. (S/NF) Tej Bunnag, Deputy Principal Private Secretary of
the King (strictly protect), told the Ambassador in a
November 8 meeting at the Privy Council chambers that the
King\’s health appeared reasonably good. The King wanted to
remain active, although his health constraints complicated
the duties of his schedulers. Tej asserted definitively that
no planning was under way for the King\’s eventual death; the
Privy Council would determine what to do after the event.
Tej confirmed Princess Galyani\’s condition was poor, and he
said the King was fully aware of this fact; her death, if
prior to December 23, should not affect the upcoming
election. Tej relayed the King\’s bluntly expressed decision
that the Crown Prince represent him in the November 5 royal
barge ceremony; this was taken as a strong indicator of the
King\’s determination to have the Crown Prince retain his
current status as the King\’s designated successor. Tej
sought and received the Ambassador\’s assurance his remarks
would be kept in the strictest confidence. End Summary.

KING\’S HEALTH AND SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES
————————————–

2. (S/NF) Tej Bunnag, Deputy Principal Private Secretary of
the King (strictly protect), told the Ambassador that King
Bhumibol, whose hospitalization ended on November 7 (ref A),
appeared to be in relatively good condition. Responding to
the Ambassador\’s questions, Tej said the King was able to
speak and to stand on his own. (Note: November 7 television
footage showed the King walking out of the hospital at a
quick pace with the assistance of a walker; the King was not
seen speaking in public, however. End note.) Tej said the
King was resuming his regular duties, and approximately 80
files were awaiting the King\’s signature. If the King\’s
health were to worsen, Tej said, the King would immediately
return to the hospital.

3. (S/NF) Tej said the King had made it clear on more than
one occasion that he wanted to leave the hospital, but his
doctors held him back. Given the King\’s desires, Palace
staff members were unable to clear the King\’s schedule; they
had to cancel all events at the last possible moment. The
Ambassador noted the upcoming visit under Embassy auspices of
the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Some members of the King\’s
musical entourage had indicated to Embassy officials that the
King would like the band to come to the Palace for a private
performance, with his possibly joining in a jam session. The
Ambassador asked if these reports seemed credible. Tej
replied this scenario sounded quite possible, although, like
other events, a performance for or with the King could be
canceled at the last moment. The Palace was continuing to
plan for the King\’s participation in the full range of
ceremonies and celebrations during the several days around
his 80th birthday (December 5).

\”THE CROWN PRINCE IS MY REPRESENTATIVE\”
—————————————

4. (S/NF) Tej explained that the King had very much wanted to
participate in the November 5 royal barge procession. Given
his medical condition, Palace figures prepared five
alternatives for his consideration. When they presented
these, however, the King quickly dismissed them. According
to Tej, the King said, \”I don\’t need these; the Crown Prince
is my representative.\” (In the event, Crown Prince
Vajiralongkorn took the King\’s place on the Suphannahongse
barge.) Tej said Palace insiders interpreted the King\’s
blunt decision as the clearest indication yet of his
determination to have the Crown Prince retain his current
status as the King\’s designated successor.

PRINCESS\’ HEALTH
—————-

5. (S/NF) The Ambassador inquired about the health of

BANGKOK 00005738 002 OF 002

Princess Galyani Vadhana, the King\’s older sister, indicating
some skepticism about official reports of her recovery (ref
B). Tej reluctantly conceded in imprecise terms that the
Princess was in a state of continual dependence on medical
equipment. The Ambassador asked whether the King was
\”completely aware\” of Galyani\’s condition. Tej replied
unambiguously that the King was, noting the King had visited
Galyani on a daily basis while in the hospital.

6. (S/NF) The Ambassador asked if Galyani\’s eventual demise
would affect the upcoming election (as some fear — ref B).
Tej stated with conviction that it would not, noting as one
important factor Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont\’s strong
desire for the elections to take place as scheduled. The
Ambassador observed that Thais should not need to choose
between mourning the death of a respected figure and being
able to elect a government; Tej agreed.

NO PLANNING FOR MOURNING
————————

7. (S/NF) With due sensitivity to the issue, the Ambassador
asked whether anyone was engaged in planning for funeral
arrangements, in the event of the Princess\’ or King\’s
passing. \”Absolutely not,\” replied Tej, noting that this
would be culturally taboo. The Ambassador asked whether
Galyani\’s death would be marked by a 100-day mourning period;
Tej said this scenario sounded plausible, but nothing had
been determined. Tej also explained there would be no
advance planning for how to respond to the King\’s death; the
Privy Council would determine what to do after the event.
The Ambassador noted the Embassy had heard speculation of a
1,000-day mourning period after the King\’s death. Tej said
he simply did not know what would happen, but he was able to
confirm that the Crown Prince, if he remains the designated
successor, would immediately become King, although his
coronation ceremony would take place after the mourning
period and royal cremation.

STRICTLY PROTECT
—————-

8. (S/NF) At the conclusion of the meeting, Tej highlighted
the extraordinary sensitivity of the matters they had
discussed. He sought and received the Ambassador\’s assurance
of complete confidentiality regarding his remarks.

COMMENT
——-

9. (S/NF) Few contacts with Tej\’s level of access to Palace
information have been as open with us as he was in this
meeting. We see nothing incongruous about his claim that
there is no ongoing planning for how to respond to the King\’s
passing; we also take heart that the latest signs indicate no
reason to believe this is imminent.
BOYCE

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