The constitution previously stated that if no regent was appointed, the head of the Privy Council — the king’s advisory body — would become regent. The amendment effectively keeps royal power in the hands of the king or a trusted confidante when he is abroad.
A second amendment makes it easier to implement the king’s desired changes in a new constitution that was approved in a referendum last August. The government says the changes solely concern royal powers. Vajiralongkorn’s approval is needed for the new constitution to be implemented.
Friday’s changes were made to an interim constitution enacted in 2014 after the military ousted an elected government in a coup d’etat. It is unclear why Vajiralongkorn is seeking changes in the new constitution, but it suggests that he has not yet settled his relationship with the military.
Vajiralongkorn took the throne on Dec. 2 following the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct. 13. Privy Council head Prem Tinisulanonda, a former army chief and prime minister who was a close adviser to Bhumibol, served as regent during the month before Vajiralongkorn succeeded his father.