Ubol Ratana

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Ubol Ratana
Princess Ubolratana 2010-12-7 2 cropped1.jpg
Princess Ubol Ratana

(1951-04-05) 5 April 1951 (age 69)
Lausanne, Switzerland
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (SB)
University of California, Los Angeles (MPH)
Peter Jensen
(m. 1972; div. 1998)
ChildrenPloypailin Jensen
Poom Jensen
Sirikitiya Jensen
Parent(s)Bhumibol Adulyadej (father)
Sirikit (mother)
RelativesVajiralongkorn (brother)

Princess Ubol Ratana (Thai: อุบลรัตน, RTGSUbonrat, pronounced [ʔùʔ.bōn.rát]; born 5 April 1951)[a] is a member of the Thai royal family. She is the eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.

In 1972, she married American citizen Peter Ladd Jensen and settled in the United States, losing her royal title in the process. The couple divorced in 1998, whereupon she resumed her royal duties and position within the Thai court. She is styled in English as Princess Ubol Ratana, without the style Her Royal Highness.[1]

In 2001, she permanently returned to Thailand after a series of visits in the years following her divorce. Almost immediately, she began to fulfill her royal duties by taking part in many ceremonies. She started many charitable foundations that focused on improving the quality of life for the disadvantaged.[2]

In February 2019, in an "unprecedented" move, Ubol Ratana announced her candidacy for Prime Minister of Thailand in the 2019 general election, running as a candidate of the Thaksin-allied Thai Raksa Chart Party.[3] Later that same day, her younger brother King Vajiralongkorn issued an emergency royal decree stating that her candidacy is "inappropriate" and "unconstitutional".[4] Thailand’s election commission then disqualified her from running for prime minister, formally putting an end to her candidacy.[5]

Early life[edit]

Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya is the eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. She was born on 5 April 1951, at Clinique de Montchoisi in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ubol Ratana, part of her royal name, means "glass lotus", a reference to her maternal grandmother, Bua ("lotus") Kitiyakara. Her parents nicknamed her "Pay", short for poupee (French for "doll"). To her family she is known as Phi Ying. In the media and by Thai people in general, she is called Thun Kramom, a title identifying the daughter of a reigning queen.[6]

She returned to Thailand and stayed at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, Dusit Palace. She was styled "Her Royal Highness" by her father at the royal celebration of the first month birthday ceremony (Phra Ratchaphithi Somphot Duean Lae Khuen Phra U; พระราชพิธีสมโภชเดือนและขึ้นพระอู่) King Bhumibol Adulyadej gave her full name and title "Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi".

Ubol Ratana was Bhumibol's favorite child because she was attractive and excelled at academics and sports, where her brother, Vajiralongkorn did not. The king greatly enjoyed playing tennis and badminton with her.[7] This was partly due to his suspicion that others were not trying their hardest when playing sports with him and he admired Ubol Ratana for always trying her best.

In the 1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (today called the "Southeast Asian Games") held in Bangkok, the king and the princess competed in the OK Dinghy sailing class and won gold medals for Thailand.[6]

Their participation was conceived by Air Chief Marshal Davee Chullasap who wanted Bhumibol to be seen excelling in sports, much like a Norwegian king who won a gold Olympics medal. During the race, Ubol Ratana was ahead and the king was trailing behind. Davee feared that this would tarnish the king's prestige, but ultimately the king won the race and the father and daughter shared the medal.[7]


Ubol Ratana attended primary to secondary levels at Chitralada School. She went to the United States for her tertiary education. She studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics in 1973. She later obtained a master's degree in public health at University of California, Los Angeles.

Marriage and family[edit]

While studying at university, Ubol Ratana dated an American, Peter Ladd Jensen. The palace discovered this, and her parents strongly opposed their relationship.[7] The princess refused to conform to their wishes; on 25 July 1972, she married Jensen.

According to Paul M. Handley's biography of Bhumibol, the king became furious at Ubol Ratana and stripped her of her royal title.[7] Ubol Ratana made many attempts to ask her father to reinstate her royal title before and after her permanent return to Thailand, but the king never relented.[7]

The princess lived in the United States with her husband for over 26 years and took the name "Mrs. Julie Jensen". After years of rumoured marital problems, they divorced in 1998. Ubol Ratana and her children continued to reside in San Diego until 2001, when they returned to Thailand.[7]

The couple had three children, two daughters and a son, all born in the United States:

While Ubol Ratana remained in the US, her mother (Queen Sirikit) and other members of the royal family often flew there for visits. Ubol Ratana likewise flew to Thailand along with her husband to visit her parents and the other members of the royal family, while joining them in royal ceremonies when she visited Thailand. She visited in 1980, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1996, taking part in several family events, before her permanent return in 2001.[7]

Charitable work[edit]

Ubol Ratana launched the "To Be Number One" Foundation[9] in 2002 to combat drug use by young people. As of 2019 the foundation has more than 31 million members throughout Thailand. She hosts the television show, "Talk to the Princess" on TVT11 NBT where she promotes the aims of her anti-drug work.[10]

Film career[edit]

In 2003, Ubol Ratana starred in a Thai soap opera, Kasattiya. In 2006 she had a role in Anantalai, a drama series she wrote under the pen name "Ploykampetch". In 2011, the princess and her daughter Ploypailin Jensen starred in Dao Long Fah, Pupha Si-ngen.[10]

Ubol Ratana acted in the Thai movie Where The Miracle Happens (Neung Jai Diaokan) (หนึ่งใจ..เดียวกัน), released on 7 August 2008 (in this film she also participated as a screenwriter). She plays a "lonely-at-the-top" CEO who begins a life of philanthropy after the death of her only daughter.[11] In 2010, she appeared in the action film My Best Bodyguard (มายเบสท์บอดี้การ์ด), released on 21 October 2010.[10][12] In 2012, she appeared in the romantic film Together (Wan Tee Rak) (ร่วมกัน), released on 20 December 2012.[13]

Political career[edit]

In 2019, it was announced Ubol Ratana would run as the prime ministerial candidate for the Thaksin-affiliated Thai Raksa Chart Party in the 2019 general election, called an "astonishing" move without precedent, as the royal family has never been directly involved in electoral politics.[14] Her candidacy was quickly quashed by her brother, King Rama X, on the grounds that members of the royal family may not overtly participate in politics.[15] After his statement, the Thai Raksa Chart Party withdrew their support for her run.[16] The Election Commission, citing the royal decree, disqualified her.[17]

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Princess Ubol Ratana of Thailand
Reference styleHer Royal Highness
Spoken styleYour Royal Highness
Royal monogram
Royal Cypher Flag

Ubol Ratana was born with the titles of "Her Royal Highness" and "Princess Chao Fa", but gave these up upon her marriage to an American citizen. The title Chao Fa was lost because she married a commoner. She had previously held the royal title Chao Fa Ubol Ratana Rajakanya. She still retains the style of Tunkramom Ying, which means "daughter to the queen regent". Since her return to Thailand, she has increasingly taken part in royal ceremonies, though not to the extent of her siblings.




  1. ^ Her full name in Thai is Ubol Ratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi (Thai: อุบลรัตนราชกัญญา สิริวัฒนาพรรณวดี; RTGSUbonrat Ratchakanya Siriwatthana Phannawadi), while her legal commoner name is Ubolratana Mahidol (อุบลรัตน มหิดล).


  1. ^ "พระปรมาภิไธย พระนามาภิไธย และพระนาม". ohm.go.th. Office of the Prime Minister. Archived from the original on 2012-06-06. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ "'Princess Ubolratana Biography'". Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  3. ^ Withnall, Adam (2019-02-08). "Thai princess joins election race to become prime minister in stunning move for 'apolitical' royals". The Independent. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  4. ^ "Thai king says sister's candidacy for prime minister is 'inappropriate', 'unconstitutional': Palace statement". Channel NewsAsia. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  5. ^ Jett, Jennifer (2019-02-11). "Thai King's Sister Is Formally Barred From Running for Prime Minister". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  6. ^ a b c d Thaitrakulpanich, Asaree. "From Princess and Expat to Politician, A Life Ever in Motion". Khaosod English. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Handley, Paul (2006). The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300106824.
  8. ^ "Prince dies in tsunami, was grad of Torrey Pines". San Diego Union-Tribune. 30 December 2004. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  9. ^ "โครงการรณรงค์ป้องกันและแก้ไขปัญหายาเสพติด". TO BE NUMBER ONE. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  10. ^ a b c "The Princess who would be Premier". The Nation. 2019-02-09. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  11. ^ "Neung Jai Diaokan". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  12. ^ "My Best Bodyguard". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  13. ^ Imdb
  14. ^ "Princess Ubolratana: Thai royal to stand as PM candidate". BBC News. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  15. ^ Beech, Hannah (2019-02-08). "Thailand's King Rejects His Sister's Candidacy for Prime Minister". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  16. ^ "Thailand: princess's bid for power is over after party withdraws support". The Guardian. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Politics Archives". Khaosod English. Retrieved 2019-02-15.

External links[edit]

Ubol Ratana
Born: 5 April 1951
Order of precedence
Preceded by
The Princess Srisavangavadhana
Thai order of precedence
6th position
Succeeded by
The Princess Suddhanarinatha