- Early life and education
- Heir apparent and social interest
- Personal life
- Titles, styles and honours
|King Rama X|
|King of Thailand|
|Reign||13 October 2016 – present|
|Predecessor||Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)|
|Heir presumptive||Dipangkorn Rasmijoti|
|Prime Minister||Prayut Chan-o-cha|
(13 October 2016 – 1 December 2016)
|Crown Prince of Thailand|
|Tenure||28 December 1972 – 13 October 2016|
|Predecessor||Maha Vajiravudh (Rama VI)|
|Born||(1952-07-28) 28 July 1952
|Spouse||Soamsawali Kitiyakara (m. 1977; div. 1991)
Yuvadhida Polpraserth (m. 1994; div. 1996)
Srirasmi Suwadee (m. 2001; div. 2014)
Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti
|House||Mahidol (Chakri Dynasty)|
|Father||Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)|
Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (Thai: มหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร, rtgs: Mahawachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun, pronounced [māhǎːwát͡ɕʰírāːlōŋkɔ̄ːn bɔ̄ːdīntʰrátʰêːppʰājáwárāːŋkūːn] ) is the King of Thailand, since 2016. He is the only son of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. In 1972, at the age of 20, he was made crown prince by his father. After his father’s death on 13 October 2016, he was expected to succeed to the throne of Thailand but asked for time to mourn before taking the throne. He accepted the throne on the night of 1 December 2016 but will not be crowned formally until after the cremation of his father, expected to be on 26 October 2017. His father Bhumibol’s coronation took place four years after his accession. The government retroactively declared his reign to have begun on 13 October 2016, upon his father’s death. As the tenth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, he is also styled as Rama X. At the age of 64, Vajiralongkorn is the oldest Thai monarch to ascend to the throne.
Early life and education
Vajiralongkorn was born on 28 July 1952 at 17:45 in the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. When the crown prince was one year old, Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Kromma Luang Wachirayanawong, the 13th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand of the Rattanakosin Era, gave the child his first name at birth, “Vajiralongkorn Borommachakkrayadisonsantatiwong Thewetthamrongsuboriban Aphikhunuprakanmahittaladunladet Phumiphonnaretwarangkun Kittisirisombunsawangkhawat Borommakhattiyaratchakuman” (Thai: วชิราลงกรณ บรมจักรยาดิศรสันตติวงศ เทเวศรธำรงสุบริบาล อภิคุณูประการมหิตลาดุลเดช ภูมิพลนเรศวรางกูร กิตติสิริสมบูรณ์สวางควัฒน์ บรมขัตติยราชกุมาร). He is the only son, the second of the four children of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.
Vajiralongkorn began his education in 1956, when he entered kindergarten at the Chitralada School in Dusit Palace. After completing Mathayom 1 (grade seven), he was sent to study at public schools in the United Kingdom, first at King’s Mead School, Seaford, Sussex, and then at Millfield School, Somerset, where he completed his secondary education in July 1970. In August 1970, he attended a five-week military training course at The King’s School, in Sydney, Australia.
In 1972, the prince enrolled at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra, Australia. His education at Duntroon was divided into two parts, military training by the Australian Army and a bachelor’s degree course under the auspices of the University of New South Wales. He graduated in 1976 as a newly commissioned lieutenant with a liberal arts degree.
In 1982 he completed a second bachelor’s degree in law with second-class honours at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.
Vajiralongkorn was proclaimed crown prince on 28 December 1972 at 12:23 in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, making him the third crown prince of the Chakri Dynasty. An excerpt from the royal command to establish the title of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, reads:
As stated in the bliss or the royal statutes of the country, when a Royal Prince who is destined to be heir to the throne is mature, the King shall graciously bestow the rank upon him of Somdet Phra Yupharat Mongkutratchakuman. At this present time, all people including citizens of nations all over the world shall accept and acclaim that His Royal Highness Prince Vajiralongkorn shall to succeed to the throne of the Kingdom. When His Royal Highness Prince is mature, at the time that he shall be established as heir to the throne, tradition and a royal tradition Kattii ceremony should be observed, consistent with the citizens and all leaders of the country of all sides. Therefore, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej hereby decrees for His Royal Highness Prince Vajiralongkorn to be His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in accordance with the name written in the Supannabhat as: Somdet Phra Boromma-orasathirat Chao Fa Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun Sirikittayasombunsawangwat Worakhuttiyarajsantiwong Mahitalaphong Adulayadet Chakkrinaresyuppharajvisut Sayammakutratchakuman
He had taken up his duties while serving in the Royal Thai Armed Forces, including frequent provincial tours and representing King Bhumibol at a wide variety of official functions and ceremonies before he ascended the throne.
On 6 November 1978, the prince was ordained as a monk at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), at age 26. As is traditional for royals, he stayed at Wat Bowonniwet Vihara for 15 days and under the monastic name “Vajiralongkornno”.
Military training and career
After completing his studies, Vajiralongkorn served as a career officer in the Royal Thai Army. He served as a staff officer in the Directorate of Army Intelligence and attended the Command and General Staff College in 1977. Vajiralongkorn trained for periods with the US, British, and Australian armed services, studying unconventional warfare and advanced navigation. He is a qualified fixed-wing and helicopter pilot. In 1978 he became head of the King’s Own Bodyguard Battalion. Later that year he interrupted his military career to be ordained for a season as a Buddhist monk, as is customary for all Thai Buddhist men.
Vajiralongkorn holds the ranks of Field Marshal (Chom Phon) in the Royal Thai Army, Admiral of the Fleet (Chom Phon Ruea) in the Royal Thai Navy, and Marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force (Chom Phon Akat) in the Royal Thai Air Force. He is qualified to pilot the Northrop F-5 and many other aircraft,F-16, and the Boeing 737-400. At various times he engaged in actions for counter-insurgency purposes in north and northeast Thailand, as well as for protective purposes in areas around the then Cambodian refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province. His military role in recent years has become increasingly ceremonial. As his father grew older, Vajiralongkorn took a more prominent part in royal ceremonial and public appearances. He officially opened the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, held in Nakhon Ratchasima. The event occurred one day after the 80th birthday of his father.
Medical and health care
Vajiralongkorn established “Crown Prince Hospitals” through funds donated by the public to serve as medical and health care centers for people living in remote areas. Crown Prince Hospitals had been set up in 21 locations in 1977. These hospitals had become major community hospitals providing services of international standard to the general public in 2011.
Also interested in agricultural development, Vajiralongkorn has accepted the “Mobile Agricultural Clinic Project” under his patronage. The project provides prompt services to farmers in order to enhance efficiency in farm production and solve farmers’ problems. It provides experts in various agricultural fields who can advise farmers on plants, livestock, fisheries, and land development. He also offers suggestions on the tackling of agricultural problems, in addition to the application of agricultural technology to increase productivity and the improvement in the quality of agricultural production.
Mobile Agricultural Clinic teams can move quickly to various spots in need of help. It has worked steadily and is ready to provide technical services and transfer technology. With this project, farmers have been urged to be aware of agricultural development and the application of new technology.
In recent years Vajiralongkorn had represented the late King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, in presiding over the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which is meaningful to Thai farmers. Aware of the importance of efficient agriculture for better productivity, Vajiralongkorn emphasized full-cycle agricultural activities, believing they will help improve the quality of life of farmers, who are traditionally considered the backbone of the nation.
Focus on education
Vajiralongkorn has initiated education projects with the aim of improving children’s access to quality learning and instilling the concept of lifelong learning. He has special ties to the Rajabhat University system of 40 institutions of higher learning. The chairman of the Council of Rajabhat University Presidents of Thailand said that Vajiralongkorn has presided over commencement ceremonies at all Rajabhat Universities nationwide and personally handed out degrees to all Rajabhat university graduates every year since 1978. It is estimated that over the past 35 years at least 2,100,000 degrees have been handed out by the crown prince to Rajabhat graduates. In addition, every year he donates 42 million baht to a scholarship fund benefiting Rajabhat students.
Mass bicycling events
Although Vajiralongkorn’s appearances have been less frequent than those of his sisters, who travel abroad to promote their homeland, he made two high-profile public appearances in 2015 in Thailand, known as Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad, leading thousands in mass bicycling events both in Bangkok and nationwide to honor the birthdays of his parents, Queen Sirikit and King Bhumibol. These two events promoted unity and health among the Thais of all classes.
Accession to the throne
The appointment of members of the privy council
Direct political interference
2017 Constitution amendments
Thailand’s military-backed parliament voted overwhelmingly in January 2017 to make amendments to the interim constitution so as to allow amendments to the draft constitution as suggested by the new king’s office, a move likely to delay a general election scheduled for the end of the year. Critics said the new constitution would give the military a powerful political say for years or decades. The 2017 Constitution of Thailand was approved in a referendum in 2016, and was endorsed by King Maha Vajiralongkorn on 6 April 2017, Chakri day, in a ceremony at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the office of King Vajiralongkorn had asked for several changes to clauses related to royal power in the draft constitution, a rare intervention by a sitting Thai monarch. After the death of King Bhumibol, political activity was paused during a period of mourning expected to end at the end of 2017, followed by the coronation of Vajiralongkorn and a general election.
Direct control over royal household and palace security agencies
the Chakri dynasty
|Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke
|Phra Buddha Loetla Nabhalai
Public image, the media, and the law
There is a strict, and strictly enforced, lèse majesté law in Thailand. Criticism of the king, queen, crown prince, regents, and their pets has long been strictly prohibited, with large fines and prison sentences of up to 35 years being imposed. However, Vajiralongkorn’s private life continues to be a controversial subject of discussion in Thailand, although not publicly. In the 10 January 2002 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), an article appeared suggesting that Vajiralongkorn had business ties with then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. An immediate ban was placed on distribution of the magazine, and the Thai government, citing a threat to national security, suspended the visas of FEER’s two Thailand correspondents, Shawn Crispin and Rodney Tasker.
In 2002 The Economist wrote that “Vajiralongkorn is held in much less esteem (than the king). Bangkok gossips like to swap tales of his lurid personal life… Besides, no successor, however worthy, can hope to equal the stature King Bhumibol has attained after 64 years on the throne.” This issue of The Economist was banned in Thailand. In 2010 another issue of The Economist, also not distributed in Thailand, said that Vajiralongkorn was “widely loathed and feared” and “unpredictable to the point of eccentricity”, while the online journal Asia Sentinel said that he was “regarded as erratic and virtually incapable of ruling”; the journal was blocked shortly thereafter. In a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks, senior Singaporean foreign ministry official Bilahari Kausikan said that Vajiralongkorn had a gambling habit partly funded by exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
On 12 November 2009 a home video was released to WikiLeaks, showing Vajiralongkorn casually dressed and Princess Srirasmi wearing only a G-string, all the while being attended to by several formally dressed servants, celebrating the birthday of the prince’s poodle, Air Chief Marshal Fufu. Part of this video was broadcast on the “Foreign Correspondent” programme on the Australian government’s ABC TV channel on 13 April 2010, as part of a half-hour documentary critical of the royal family of Thailand.
On 19 January 2009, Harry Nicolaides, an Australian national, was sentenced to three years in prison for self-publishing a fictional book deemed to have committed lèse majesté. The offending passage alluded to rumours that “if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.” The global news network CNN refused to air the passage. Nicolaides was later pardoned by the king.
In August 2011, the German judicial authorities in Munich impounded an aircraft, a Boeing 737, one of two belonging to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. Administrators seized the aircraft because of a 20-year-old Thai government debt owed to a now-defunct German construction corporation for the Don Mueang Tollway, that had risen to some €30 million. German authorities, representing the corporation’s interests in bankruptcy, stated the measure was a “last resort” in seeking repayment. The Thai government, which had not responded to German demands, called the move “highly inappropriate”. On 1 August, Vajiralongkorn’s office announced he would pay the deposit amounting to €20 million himself. One day later the Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya confirmed that the Thai government would pay the deposit.
In November 2016, Manager Magazin published a report stating that the new king could be issued with an inheritance tax bill in excess of €3.5 billion. According to the report, the new King is domiciled in Bavaria where he owns two villas and spends most of his time, which makes him subject to local inheritance tax.
On 16 May 2017 Thai officials warned Facebook after an online video was posted of the king wearing a crop top and with full view of his half sleeve tattoo. Imgur, the online image-sharing community and image host, has had many users pushing for the Google algorithm to be changed as this blocks such searches.
Marriage and issue
Thai Royal Family
|HM The Queen Dowager
On 3 January 1977 Vajiralongkorn married Princess Soamsawali Kitiyakara (born 1957), a first cousin on his mother’s side. They had one daughter, Princess Bajrakitiyabha, born in 1978. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn started living with actress Yuvadhida Polpraserth in the late-1970s and had five children with her. Although Princess Soamsawali had refused divorce for many years, Vajiralongkorn was finally able to sue for divorce in the Family Court in January 1993. In the court proceedings, Vajiralongkorn accused Princess Soamsawali of being completely at fault for the failed relationship. She was not able to refute the charges due to the prohibition against lèse majesté. The divorce was finalized in July 1993. Princess Soamsawali and her daughter continue to play a significant role in royal ceremonies.
When Vajiralongkorn was introduced to Yuvadhida Polpraserth, she was an aspiring actress. She became his steady companion and gave birth to his first son, Prince Juthavachara Mahidol, on 29 August 1979. He later had three more sons and a daughter by her. They were married at a palace ceremony in February 1994, where they were blessed by the King and the Princess Mother, but not by the Queen. After the marriage, she was allowed to change her name to Mom Sujarinee Mahidol na Ayudhaya, signifying she was a commoner married to a royal. She was also commissioned as a major in the Royal Thai Army and took part in royal ceremonies with Vajiralongkorn. In 1996, two years after the wedding, Mom Sujarinee (as she was now known) decamped to Britain with all her children, while Vajiralongkorn caused posters to be placed all around his palace accusing her of committing adultery with Anand Rotsamkhan, a 60-year-old air marshal. Later, the prince abducted the daughter and brought her back to Thailand to live with him. She was later elevated to the rank of princess, whilst Sujarinee and her sons were stripped of their diplomatic passports and royal titles. Sujarinee and her sons moved to the United States, and as of 2007, she was known as Sujarinee Vivacharawongse.
Vajiralongkorn married a third time on 10 February 2001, to Srirasmi Suwadee (royal name: Akharaphongpreecha), a commoner of modest background who had been in his service since 1992. The marriage was not disclosed to the public until early 2005. She gave birth to a son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, on 29 April 2005 and was then elevated to the rank of princess. Her son was immediately elevated to the rank of prince. In a magazine interview, Vajiralongkorn stated his intention to settle down.
In November 2014, however, Vajiralongkorn sent a letter to the interior ministry asking for Princess Srirasmi’s family to be stripped of the royal name Akharaphongpreecha awarded to her, following allegations of corruption against seven of her relatives. The following month, Srirasmi relinquished her royal titles and the royal name and was officially divorced from Vajiralongkorn. She received 200 million baht (US$5.5 million) as a settlement. They had been married for 13 years.
|By Soamsawali Kitiyakara (married 1977, divorced 1991)|
|Bajrakitiyabha||(1978-12-07) 7 December 1978|
|By Yuvadhida Polpraserth (married 1994, divorced 1996)|
|Juthavachara Vivacharawongse||29 August 1979||born as Juthavachara Mahidol|
|Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse||27 May 1981||born as Vacharaesorn Mahidol|
|Chakriwat Vivacharawongse||6 February 1983||born as Chakriwat Mahidol|
|Vatchrawee Vivacharawongse||14 June 1985||born as Vatchrawee Mahidol|
|Sirivannavari Nariratana||8 January 1987||born as Busyanambejra Mahidol|
|By Srirasmi Suwadee (married 2001, divorced 2014)|
|Dipangkorn Rasmijoti||(2005-04-29) 29 April 2005|
Titles, styles and honours
King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- 28 July 1952 – 28 December 1972: His Royal Highness Prince Vajiralongkorn.
- 28 December 1972 – 1 December 2016: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
- 1 December 2016 – Present: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (temporary title prior to coronation).
- English translation: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Descended by Flesh and Blood of the Divine Indra, Overlord of all Angels.
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Rajamitrabhorn
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Royal House of Chakri
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master with Chain of the Order of the Nine Gems
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of Chula Chom Klao, Special Class
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the White Elephant, Special Class
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Crown of Thailand, Special Class
- Thailand: Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Direkgunabhorn
- Thailand: Sovereign Knight of the Decoration of Order of Ramkeerati
- Thailand: Recipient of the Freeman Safeguarding Medal (First Class)
- Thailand: Recipient of the Border Service Medal
- Thailand: Recipient of the Chakra Mala Medal
- Thailand: Recipient of the King Rama IX Royal Cypher Medal (First Class)
- Thailand: Recipient of the King Rama IX Rajaruchi Medal (Gold Class)
- Thailand: Recipient of the Red Cross Medal of Appreciation (First Class)
- Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant
- Germany: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Special Class
- Japan: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum
- Malaysia: Honorary Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Defender of the Realm
- Terengganu: Knight Grand Cross of the Family Order of Terengganu
- Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
- Netherlands: Recipient of the King Willem-Alexander Inauguration Medal
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Aviz
- Spain: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Charles III
- Sweden: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of the Seraphim
- United Kingdom: Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order