His father is a billionaire playboy who has retreated to the German alps with a harem of ‘sex soldiers’ amid crisis in his kingdom.
But across the world in New York, the exiled son of Thailand‘s king is battling a life-threatening disease without receiving a penny of the monarch’s £25 billion wealth.
Chakriwat Vivacharawongse suffers from neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic condition where tumours grow throughout the nervous system, including inside the brain and spinal cord.
The 37-year-old was banished from his homeland along with his three brothers after King Rama X, then crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, accused their mother Sujarinee Vivacharawongse of adultery in 1996.
The family resettled in the United States after the crown prince stripped his wife and young sons of their royal titles. Vajiralongkorn has since remarried twice and scandalised the world by taking a concubine.
Crowned King Rama X in May last year, the 68-year-old monarch has been luxuriating with a harem of women at a German alpine retreat during the pandemic while his country protests his reign and his son undergoes chemotherapy.
Chakriwat Vivacharawongse is being treated for neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic condition where tumours grow throughout the nervous system, including inside the brain and spinal cord
Chakriwat Vivacharawongse (left) with his brothers Juthavachara, Vacharaesorn, Vatchrawee, and his younger sister Sirivannavari, and their parents the Princess Sujarinee and Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn
Vivacharawongse, who says he became a doctor because he was inspired to learn as much as possible about his genetic condition, regularly posts health advice to a Facebook page of 62,000 followers.
Last week, the fourth of seven children to the Thai king wrote: ‘Many of you who have followed medical information and stories about my health. You know that I’m under chemo now.
‘I expected that while I was being treated, to still provide the same medical information and knowledge. But in reality, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be and due to the side effects of chemo, I’m finding it difficult to keep up.
‘Chemo will destroy the cells in the tumour but at the same time, chemo destroys the body’s good cells too.’
Vivacharawongse lives in New York and attended the prestigious Sunningdale School in Berkshire as a boy
It is not clear whether any of Vivacharawongse’s tumours are cancerous as chemotherapy can also be used to treat the benign tumours caused by neurofibromatosis.
Most people with neurofibromatosis type 2, which Vivacharawongse suffers from, will experience hearing loss in their lifetime.
Other symptoms include, headaches, amnesia, seizures, muscle weakness and cataracts.
Vivacharawongse, who lives in New York, graduated with a BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Miami in 2006 before going on to study medicine.
He is the founder and CEO of Chakriwat Medical Information Center which aims to ‘bring awareness to common medical ailments through clinical vignettes.’
The former Thai royal regularly posts videos to Facebook and YouTube as part of this mission.
In 1998, Vivacharawongse – then aged 15 – co-signed a letter with his brothers to the Thai press which only emerged four years ago.
The brothers accused King Rama X of ‘trying to erase the memories of us,’ when he was crown prince.
‘Our father had never loved or treated our mother as his wife,’ the letter said. ‘She lived in a state of servitude, and every time he found another woman we would be forced out of the house.’
The aspiring actress Sujarinee met the prince as a teenager and was his mistress for 15 years before becoming the second of his four wives.
Vivacharawongse’s three brothers, Juthavachara, 41, Vacharaesorn, 39, and Vatchrawee, 35, and his younger sister Sirivannavari, 33, grew up in the prince’s palace while attending boarding school in the UK.
Vivacharawongse attended prestigious Sunningdale prep school and later Pangbourne College, both boarding schools in Berskshire.
Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn with his second of four wives Princess Sujarinee who he married in 1994 after having five children with her during a 15 year affair
Vivacharawongse’s sister Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana – the only child from the family who retained her royal titles
According to the brothers’ letter, in 1996 the crown prince visited Britain and ‘took away our little sister,’ aged nine at the time, and they returned to Thailand where she was given the title Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.
The brothers and their mother were stripped of their royal status and told to never come back.
The 1998 letter says, ‘We tried constantly to … contact our father but were never allowed to talk to him.’
It also claims that Vajiralongkorn sent private detectives to follow them.
It added: ‘Letters came from our father to the schools that we were attending saying that he would no longer pay. He demanded that we surrender our diplomatic passports in to the Thai royal embassy … We were told that the Thai public does not accept us and that we were not welcome in Thailand.’
The brothers claimed that some of their mother’s friends in Thailand were jailed for refusing to corroborate false allegations by the prince, that she had stolen jewellery and had an affair.
Other relatives were also persecuted, their property taken from them and exiled, the brothers wrote.
The family were granted political asylum in the United States in 1997 and given passports under the name Vivacharawongse.
In 2001, the crown prince married for a third time to Srirasmi Suwadee, a waitress who had worked in the royal household since 1992.
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida during their wedding ceremony in Bangkok in May last year. According to tradition, the King has a semi-divine status and must be seated higher than those around him
Vajiralongkorn wed his first cousin Soamsawali Kitiyakara (left) in January 1977 but nine months after she gave birth to his daughter the prince had a son with actress Sujarinee Vivacharawongse
He described her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone.’
In 2007, footage emerged of Princess Srirasmi topless and singing happy birthday to the king’s pet poodle as the monarch watched on.
She also got on her knees and ate from a dog bowl in the same video.
In late 2014, Srirasmi suffered a very public fall from grace when several members of her family were arrested as part of a police corruption probe and charged with treason.
Vajiralongkorn later divorced her and she lost her royal titles.
She lost contact with her son Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, heir to the throne, and her elderly parents got two and a half years in prison.
On 1 May 2019, three days before his coronation, Vajiralongkorn married Suthida Tidjai, former Aide-de-Camp to the king.
Just two months later, Vajiralongkorn announced that Major General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was to become his Royal Noble Consort, the fist naming of a second consort for almost a century.
Three months later she was stripped of her titles for disrespecting Queen Suthida and disloyalty to the king.
In 2001, the crown prince wed his third wife Srirasmi Suwadee (pictured with their son Dipangkom Rasmijoti), describing her as a ‘modest and patient’ woman who ‘never says bad things towards anyone’
His third wife, a former waitress, was Srirasmi Suwadee with whom he had one child. The pair divorced in 2014 which led to eight of her relatives being arrested
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida appear on the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall of the Grand Palace as they grant a public audience on the final day of his royal coronation in Bangkok on May 6, 2019
Vajiralongkorn’s first wife – Princess Soamsawali (right) – was the only other royal he ever married, being his first cousin on his mother’s side
But in September this year her rank and military decorations were restored and it was declared that she ‘is not tarnished.’
The King has been residing in the penthouse of a German alpine hotel with a harem of sex soldiers during the coronavirus lockdown.
For months, Vajiralongkorn has kept himself out of the public eye in the luxury resort of the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl, in a ski town near the Austrian border.
He has been busying himself on the hotel’s fourth floor which has allegedly been converted into a ‘pleasure palace’ for the monarch and his concubines, Bild reported, decked out with ‘treasures and antiques’ from Thailand.
The King’s ‘sex soldiers’ are said to be assembled as a military unit called the SAS, like Britain’s special forces – with the same motto, ‘who dares wins’, the paper said.
The King’s stay in Germany means he missed Coronation Day in Thailand, marking a year since he was installed as the new monarch last year.
The King can be seen in a pair of leggings and a cycling jacket while wearing a helmet and sunglasses as he peddled with some of his concubines to Unterammergau in Germany
The Grand Hotel where the king is staying has seen most tourists stay away and the hotel’s website says it is ‘currently unavailable for bookings’ because of the coronavirus pandemic, without mentioning its long-term guests
There is no word on how long he intends to stay, but he is known to have flown back to Thailand from Munich Airport at least once, and was seen inspecting protective gear in Bangkok earlier this month.
The King has been criticised before over his jet-set lifestyle and for spending lockdown in Germany instead of with his nation, and is facing increasing resistance within his kingdom.
News of his apparent self-isolation in Germany was met with anger by thousands of Thai people who condemned their leader online under the slogan ‘Why do we need a king?’
Insulting the monarchy is a crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.