Bangkok, Thailand (CNN)A Thai political party that nominated a princess as its candidate in upcoming elections has been dissolved by the country's Constitutional Court, in what could prove to be a blow for the pro-democracy movement.
Thai party that nominated a princess for PM has been dissolved
The court ruled Thursday that by nominating Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, the elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thai Raksa Chart Party (Thai Save The Nation, or TSN) was deemed "hostile to the monarchy institution."
The party's executive members will be banned from politics for 10 years, the judge said.
TSN intended to contest 174 of 375 constituencies around the country -- those candidates will no longer run as the deadline to register with another party has long passed.
Ahead of the ruling, about 1,200 police officers were deployed around the court in Bangkok, to control expected crowds in a case that has stirred widespread national attention.
Party chief Preechaphol Pongpanich said he felt "deeply saddened" by the verdict. "Disbanding a political party is certainly affecting basic political freedom and rights of candidates and people who are heading to election on March 24," said Pongpanich in a statement outside the court.
The shock nomination of 67-year-old Ubolratana in February -- for a party aligned with exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra -- threatened to upend Thai politics.
The candidacy of a close member of the royal family would have been unprecedented in Thailand. Absolute monarchy ended 86 years ago but the crown remains highly revered and influential.
A day after his sister's announcement, the King said Ubolratana's candidacy would be "inappropriate." Thailand's Electoral Commission disqualified her from the March 24 election, the first since a military coup in 2014, saying that the "monarchy must remain above politics."
The commission called on the court to dissolve the party on the grounds that it broke election rules by "undermining the constitutional monarchy."
Last week, the court said that it had enough evidence to proceed.