At the end of October, King Maha Wachiralongkorn of Thailand stripped of titles and honors his official favorite Sininat Wongwajirapakdi, accusing her of disloyalty to the king. It follows from the monarch's statement that she was not loyal to the king and queen, behaved irresponsibly and sowed discord among the royal and civil servants at the royal court. Tamara Luz, professor of history and taistics at Cornell University, believes that the language of the king of Thailand's official statement resembles a document from an era when women had no political rights and a woman with influence was said to be ambitious. According to Luz, the court's statement can be read as the start of the modern absolute monarchy in Thailand. We decided to study the history of the institute of favorites and find out if they exist today.
Officially, Sininat Wongwajirapakdi's title sounded like "consort." Thirty-four-year-old Sininat Wongwajirapakdi received this title a month after the king of Thailand married a general and chief of his personal guard. At the same time, Sininat, like the new queen of Thailand, was in the ranks of the royal guard and received the rank of major general this year.
The statement of the King of Thailand also notes that Wongvatchiraphakdi "constantly tried to influence the king's decision to enter into an official marriage and elevate Her Majesty Queen Suthida to royal dignity", and after the wedding of the king and queen she "insisted on raising her own status", after which the king made a decision to revive the ancient title of the royal consort and grant her that title.
In Thailand, historically, consorts were assigned to the monarch's companions who did not have a royal rank. The title of consort was not awarded in Thailand from 1921 until 2019, when Sininat received it.
Sininat's story is reminiscent of the fate of King Wachiralongkorn's two previous wives. In 1996, he expelled his second wife Suharini Vivacharavongze and disowned their joint four sons, with whom she now lives in the United States. In 2014, he got rid of his third wife, Srirasmi Suvande, stripping her of all titles. Her parents were arrested for insulting His Majesty. Where Srirasmi is now is unknown. According to Thailand's Insult to His Majesty Law, sudden stripping of all titles cannot be publicly discussed in the country.
The interpretation of the title "consort" is somewhat different from the term "favorite". The title "consort" in monarchical states is held by uncrowned spouses of royals, but the term "consort" for the husband of the reigning queen is rare. For example, in Great Britain, Prince Philip is called a consort - the husband of the reigning queen, who is not himself a monarch.
In Morocco, King Mohammed VI abolished the consort title and gave his wife Lalla Salma the title of princess. In Brunei, the name of the Sultan Raja's wife Hysteria is pronounced with the prefix "Pengiran Anak". It is essentially the equivalent of a consort.
Maids of honor
For the first time the term "official favorite" appeared in France. This is the status that the king of France could bestow on one of his lovers. The difference between the official favorite and all the others was that she had the opportunity to interfere in the life of the royal court and even in the intra-family relations of the ruling family.
Historians date the appearance of the maid of honor to the reign of Anne of Breton - until that time, the king's entourage consisted mainly of knights. During the reign of Anna and after her, the ladies' yard grew larger. At the same time, an epidemic of syphilis broke out in France, so it is possible that the increase in the number of women at court was due to the desire of the king and his entourage to protect themselves from the disease.
The forerunner of the first official mistress is called Agnes Sorel, who was granted several privileges by Charles VII. So, she began to wear an impressive train - the length of the train in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance was determined by the status of a woman. The king presented Sorel to the seigneur Baute-sur-Marne with the right to bear this name, then other possessions, in particular the castle of Issoudun in Berry and the possession of Vernon in Normandy. Sorel actively intervened in politics and secured titles and positions at the royal court for her relatives. According to one version, Sorel was deliberately poisoned with mercury.
However, the time of the emergence of the term "official favorite" is still considered the period of the reign of Francis I. He began to initiate women in the presence of the entire royal court. According to the French historian Guy Chaussinan-Nogaret, the cult of the mistress at the French court is a degenerated chivalric tradition of worshiping the Beautiful Lady.
The marriage of royalty most often served the formal function of preserving political and dynastic ties. Kings and queens, who had favorites and favorites, thus made up for the lack of love, while the courtiers took such connections as a matter of course.
Françoise de Chateaubriand, who became the first official favorite of Francis I, married when she was fourteen years old. This did not stop the king, who in every possible way sought a meeting with Françoise. She is described as the most modest favorite of the king, who did not interfere in state affairs, and used her position to promote her relatives - her two brothers received the highest ranks, and her husband became the company commander. However, not all favorites remained in the shadow of the king and chose to provide for the family as their only goal. Many of them, in fact, as advisers and strategists, played a more important role in politics than the ruling monarch.
There was no official ceremony of dedication to the favorite, but some of the favorites had an official position, they could attend meetings on an equal basis with the king. In those cases where their relationship with kings ceased to be exclusively sexual in nature, they continued to have influence at court. So, Diane de Poitiers, appointed by Henry II, became an etiquette teacher - at that moment she was thirty-one years old, and the future prince was only twelve.
At the request of Henry, all royal dishes in the palace were decorated with a double monogram DH (Diana - Henri). When Henry became king at the age of fourteen, the country was in fact ruled by Diana, who was always very interested in politics. She decided which laws to pass, dismissed several ministers and the chancellor.
Never in world history has the favorite had more control over politics than Diane de Poitiers. Her status was recognized by foreign monarchs and the Pope, who entered into diplomatic correspondence with the favorite.
Despite the seeming norm of having a favorite, the birth of a child even for an unmarried woman was a scandal, therefore, to resist this, kings sometimes arranged marriages for their favorites with other nobles. And although the role of the royal bastard has long been considered a curse, until 786 in England any royal descendants - legitimate or not - could claim the throne. This continued until the adoption of the law, according to which "born of adultery or incest" heirs could not claim the throne.
The descendants of the royal mistresses still exist today. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife are descendants of the English kings William IV and Charles II, respectively. In fact, the most famous representative of the royal family of the twentieth century is a descendant of a favorite: Princess Diana is the heiress of Charles II's favorite Louise de Kerouai.
The life of the favorites at court was very unstable.If they lost the sympathy of the king, then they lost their title, property and jewelry - they had to be returned. The king's ability to find another favorite was also an object of constant concern.
It is known that Charles II, who had several favorites and mistresses at the same time, liked to play them against each other, watching the confrontation. The official favorite of Louis XV, Marie Dubarry, was executed during the revolution. Lola Montes, a favorite of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, was forced to flee after people threw dung at her.
When kings died, the position of the favorites changed dramatically. Before death, kings often disowned them. But there were times when the dying king bequeathed the crown to his favorite.
The influence of the favorites finally weakened during the reign of Queen Victoria. She banned "illegitimate royals at court" and called them "ghosts that are best forgotten."
Photos: Wikipedia (1, 2)