The decision by the Thai king's elder sister to run for top office in the national elections next month could not be more surprising - or significant.
The move, foreseen by literally nobody, has thrown Thailand into even more of a turmoil than its typical tumultuous state. The only peaceful thing in Thailand is a vacation. Entering politics is a full contact sport.
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya has thrown the first punch. It is an unprecedented decision to wade into domestic politics - and it puts the current military government in a very strange position.
The generals claimed power during a 2014 coup staged in the name of the throne. To make matters even more muddled, Ubolratana is now running for a party supported by the left-leaning "red shirts" who elected exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
That's the man the military removed. Then the red shirts elected Thaksin's sister. The generals removed her in a coup, too.
Investors will want to note that the Thai stock market has shown signs of life this year. The benchmark SETI index is up 6.6% in 2019, marking the end of a year-long 14.5% downturn.
Whether this most dynamic of the old "Asian Tigers" can sustain that momentum will depend on the outcome of these events. The Thai stock market can show great strength. It ran up 47.6% in 2017.
To see the military removed peacefully would restore confidence in Thailand's democracy, economy and rule of law. Pretty much everything has been on hold since 2014, many businesses uncertain of the direction of the nation. To be honest, the military men aren't all that hot at running an economy or a country.
The members of Thailand's royal family are revered, and beyond reproach. They are also not supposed to intervene in politics. Not one has done so since Thailand ended the absolute power of the monarchy in 1932 and started having elections.
The only reason Ubolratana can run at all is that she gave up her royal positions in the 1970s. That's when she got her biochem degree from MIT, married an American she met in college, and became Mrs. Julie Jensen - meaning she is technically a commoner as a result.
I say technically, because there's definitely a sense of "once a princess, always a princess," particularly in Thailand. Ubolratana, now 67, saw her marriage to Peter Jensen break down in the 1990s, and she returned to Thailand from San Diego in 2001 after her divorce. Since then, she's been an actress, a social activist, and a regular on social media.
The former Julie Jensen is now known as "Tunkramom Ying," or the Daughter to the Queen Regent. Ubolratana is the first-born child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the exalted and beloved king who reigned for 70 years before his death at the age of 88 in 2016. She's on Instagram @nichax, by the way.
It was in an Instagram post on Friday that she said she wants to see all Thais "have the right to have an opportunity, and happiness in our country." She stressed her status as a commoner, and said running "is my demonstration of my rights, without any special treatment under the constitution."
"I act according to my sincerity and intention to sacrifice, and call for the betterment of the country," she added.
This puts the military-backed current government in an unwinnable position. The military has seized power twice from the Thaksins, saying it was acting under the auspices of the king, and in his best interest.
In actual fact, the "yellow shirt" royalists are supported by the educated, urban elite. Adopting the king's royal yellow colors, they have been aghast that the nation keeps electing "red shirt" leaders who represent the common man.
In stepped the military to restore power to the elite. Now current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha, who announced his own candidacy last Friday, must essentially run a mock campaign, always expecting to lose to the princess.
Since Thai kings and their families are protected by strict laws on lese-majesté, banning criticism, it's a very good question whether he's even allowed - either by law or just in practice - to criticize his royal/commoner opponent.
He can't win. Literally.
The national elections will occur on March 24. Ubolratana is running as a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart, or "Thai Save the Nation," party. It's an offshoot of the Pheu Thai party who elected Thaksin. After he was removed by coup, his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, took over Pheu Thai, won office, then was ousted, too.
As her father's first child, Ubolratana has also been known as "Toon Kra Mom," an endearment meaning "Above One's Head." She gained a soft spot in Thai hearts when she became the royal face of tragedy in the 2004 tsunami that swept Southeast Asia, and claimed the life of one of her three sons.
Ubolratana has retained ties with Thaksin. She was spotted with the former leader, a billionaire telecoms tycoon, at last year's soccer World Cup in Russia. She has also reportedly visited him in London.
There's no way Ubolratana has entered this election without consulting her brother, the king, Maha Vajiralongkorn. So it's apparent that the monarchy wants to see an end to military rule and a return to the ballot box.
King Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne in 2016 on his father's death. But in respect of the much-loved monarch, he has not yet had his coronation. That event will occur from May 4 to 6. Even though the current king may never gain the same affection in Thai hearts that his father secured, it will be a feel-good moment for Thailand.
It seems extremely likely that Ubolratana will win on March 24, meaning that the king and his sister hold a firm grip on both the throne and the government.
What happens at that point is anyone's guess.