Blue Diamond Affair: KSA and Thailand Restore Ties

The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan o Cha, visited Riyadh on Tuesday, January 25th. Following his visit, the two countries announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. What caused the breach? Thirty years ago, a Thai gardener stole 100 kilograms of gems from Prince Faisal, son of the then king, King Fahd. Among these was a rare, fifty-carat blue diamond. The Thai police quickly found the culprit and recovered the gems. But the stones they returned to Saudi Arabia were fake. Three Saudi diplomats sent to Thailand were murdered. The real gems ended up in the possession of high-ranking police officers.

Saudi Arabia viewed Thai official behavior as adding insult to injury and broke off diplomatic relations. For thirty years, the two countries only spoke to each other unofficially.

In 2014, a whistleblower in the Thai police broke ranks and accused his superiors of masterminding the murder. He claimed to have burnt the body of one of the victims in a rusty, 55-gallon drum. A ring was still on the hand of a severed arm, which was later recognized as belonging to one of the victims. The case was nevertheless dismissed by a Thai judge because no Saudi witnesses appeared to testify in court.

The rapprochement was supposedly brokered by the king of Bahrain. There’s more to the story. Supposedly the blue diamond itself is in the possession of the former queen of Thailand, the mother of the current king. She was urged to return it to Saudi Arabia, but refused. Whether that is true or just gossip, no one really knows.

The blue diamond was never recovered.


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