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 67)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BSc)
University of California, Los Angeles (MPH)
Peter Jensen
(m. 1972; div. 1998)
Parent(s)Bhumibol Adulyadej (Father)
Sirikit (Mother)
RelativesVajiralongkorn (brother)

Princess Ubol Ratana (Thai: อุบลรัตน; RTGSUbonrat; Thai pronunciation: [ʔù.bōn.rát]; born 5 April 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland)[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 Peter Ladd Jensen, an American, and settled in the United States, in the process, losing her royal title. 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, after a series of visits to Thailand in the years following her divorce, she permanently returned to Thailand. Almost immediately after her return, Ubol Ratana 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 Thai People.[2]

In February 2019, in a move called "unprecedented", Ubol Ratana announced her candidacy for the Thai prime ministership in the 2019 general election, running as a candidate of the Thaksin-allied Thai Raksa Chart Party.[3][4] Later that same day, King Vajiralongkorn (her younger brother) issued an emergency royal decree stating that her candidacy for prime minister is "inappropriate...and unconstitutional".[5] Thailand’s election commission then disqualified her from running for prime minister, formally putting an end to her candidacy.[6]

Early life[edit]

Ubol Ratana and Vajiralongkorn in 1954

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.[7]

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 name and style 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.[8] 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.[7]

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.[8]


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 bachelors of science degrees in mathematics and biochemistry in 1973. She later obtained a master's degree in public health at UCLA.[7]

Marriage and family[edit]

Princess Ubol Ratana with King Bhumibol and Prince Vajiralongkorn

While studying at university, Ubol Ratana dated an American, Peter Jensen. The palace discovered this and Bhumibol and Sirikit were strongly opposed their relationship.[8] The princess refused to conform to their wishes and on 25 July 1972, married Jensen.

According to Paul M. Handley's autobiography of Bhumibol, the king became furious at Ubol Ratana and stripped her of her royal title.[8] However, according to the palace, Ubol Ratana voluntarily relinquished her royal titles to marry Jensen.

Ubol Ratana made many attempts to ask Bhumibol to reinstate her royal title before and after her permanent return to Thailand. The king never relented.

The princess then lived in the United States with her husband for over 26 years. She 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.

Ubol Ratana and Peter Ladd Jensen 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.

Charitable work[edit]

Ubol Ratana launched the "To Be Number One" Foundation[10] 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 Thailand's channel 9 where she promotes the aims of her anti-drug work.[11]

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 starred in Dao Long Fah, Pupha Si-ngen.[11]

Ubol Ratana acted in the Thai movie Where The Miracle Happens (Neung Jai Diaokan) (หนึ่งใจ..เดียวกัน), released in August 2008. She plays a "lonely-at-the-top" CEO who begins a life of philanthropy after the death of her only daughter.[12] In 2010, she appeared in the action film My Best Bodyguard (มายเบสต์บอดีการ์ด).[11][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

Ubol Ratana was born with the titles of Her Royal Highness and Princess Chao Fa, but gave these up on 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.

  • Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya of Thailand (1951–1972)
  • Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya / Mrs Julie Jensen[9][18] (1972–1998)
  • Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya (1998–present)

The Princess' style and title in full: Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi (Thai: ทูลกระหม่อมหญิงอุบลรัตนราชกัญญา สิริวัฒนาพรรณวดี; RTGSThunkramom Ying Ubonrat Ratchakanya Siriwatthana Phannawadi).



  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 Ubol Ratana 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. ^ Beech, Hannah (2019-02-08). "Thai King's Sister Is Picked to Run for Prime Minister, Upending Politics". New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-08.[not in citation given]
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Thai king says sister's candidacy for prime minister is 'inappropriate', 'unconstitutional': Palace statement". Channel NewsAsia. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d e Thaitrakulpanich, Asaree. "From Princess and Expat to Politician, A Life Ever in Motion". Khaosod English. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  8. ^ a b c d Cite error: The named reference Handley was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ a b "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.
  10. ^ "โครงการรณรงค์ป้องกันและแก้ไขปัญหายาเสพติด". TO BE NUMBER ONE. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  11. ^ a b c "The Princess who would be Premier". The Nation. 2019-02-09. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  12. ^ "Neung Jai Diaokan". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  13. ^ "My Best Bodyguard". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  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.
  18. ^ "North County". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2016-10-23.[not in citation given]

External links[edit]

Ubol Ratana
Born: 5 April 1951
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Princess Chulabhorn Walailak
The Royal Sister
6th position
Succeeded by
Princess Soamsawali