Thai princess remains unconscious 3 weeks after collapsing from heart issue

The Thailand king’s eldest daughter, who collapsed from a heart condition in December last year, remains unconscious, the royal palace has said in a statement on Sunday.

Thai royals said Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati did not regain consciousness after her collapse and is on “medical equipment supporting the heart, lungs and kidney”.

This is the third update that the palace has issued over the health of the princess, who is likely next in line to the throne.

The 44-year-old daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn had collapsed on 15 December while training her dogs in the Pak Chong district of the Nakhon Ratchasima province, local media reported at the time.

The princess was taken to Pak Chong Nana Hospital in the same district for initial treatment after she passed out, under the advice of royal doctors.

She was later taken to Bangkok’s King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital by helicopter and doctors said her condition there was “stable to a certain extent”.

The Bangkok Post reported that the princess’s pets were being trained to compete in the Thailand Working Dog Championship organised by the Royal Thai Army.

The palace also said that the princess had collapsed due to severe heart arrhythmia resulting from inflammation following a mycoplasma infection.

It said that the princess’s “overall condition is that she remains unconscious”.

“Doctors continue to provide medicine and use equipment to support the functions of the heart, lung and kidney as well as using antibiotics while monitoring her condition closely,” it added.

Since confirming that she was hospitalised, the palace had said in its second update that her “condition is stable at a certain level” and that her heartbeat was being controlled by medicine, but her heart contraction was still weak.

“Doctors administered medicine and the heart, lungs and kidney are being supported by machines,” it had added.

Several videos shared on social media showed crowds gathered outside the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. It was also reported that several vigils are being held outside the hospital where the Thai princess is hooked on to life support.

The Thai king, who rushed to be by his daughter’s side last month, has not yet formally named an heir, but Princess Bajrakitiyabha is widely seen as the most likely candidate to succeed him, alongside her 17-year-old half-brother Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti.

She is the eldest daughter of King Vajiralongkorn and his first wife Princess Soamsawali Kitiyakara.

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Princess Bajrakitiyabha has a PhD in law from Cornell University and was Thailand’s ambassador to Austria from 2012-14. She has worked on a number of projects with the United Nations and was appointed as a representative of Thailand for UN Women in September 2008.

In 2021, she was appointed chief of staff of the Royal Security Command, with the rank of general.

On social media, some critics have noted that the Thai Royal Palace’s statements are ambiguous and that the condition of the princess is more serious than has been made out to be.