Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun
New King of Thailand
Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, now also known as King Rama X (Thai: มหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร; rtgs: Mahawachiralongkon Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun; IPA: [máhǎːwáʨʰíraːloŋkɔːn bɔːdintʰrátʰêːppʰájáwáraːŋkuːn]); was born on born 28 July 1952, is the new King of Thailand. Rama X is the tenth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. At the age of 64, Vajiralongkorn is the oldest Thai monarch to ascend to the throne.
He is the only son of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. On December 28, 1972, at the age of 20, he was made crown prince by King Rama IX, his father.
After his father’s death on October 13, 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. The government retroactively declared his reign to have begun on 13 October 2016, upon his father’s death.
Early Life & Education
Vajiralongkorn was born on 28 July 1952 at 17:45 in the Ambara Villa of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. When the crown prince was one year old, Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Kromma Luang Wachirayanwong, 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 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 (through 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 was 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.
Heir Apparent & Social Interest
Vajiralongkorn was proclaimed crown prince on 28 December 1972 at 12:23 in the stately Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, making him the third crown prince of the Chakri Dynasty. One 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 Yuphorot Mokutrotchokumon. 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 besides serving in the Royal Thai Armed Forces, included frequent provincial tours and representing King Bhumibol at a wide variety of official functions and ceremonies until 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 the age of 26. He stayed at Wat Bowonniwet Vihara for 15 days and was given the name “Vajiralongkornno”.
Military Training & 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, 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 General in the Royal Thai Army, Admiral in the Royal Thai Navy and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force. He is qualified to pilot the Northrop F-5, F-16, and the Boeing 737-400. Intermittently, he engaged in actions for counter-insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of Thailand as well as for protective purposes in areas around 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 & Health Care
Vajiralongkorn established the “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 comprises 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.
The team of the Mobile Agricultural Clinic can move quickly to various spots that are 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.
Vajiralongkorn has also represented the late King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, in presiding over the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which is very meaningful to Thai farmers. Aware of the importance of efficient agriculture for better productivity, Vajiralongkorn had emphasized full-cycle agricultural activities, considering that they will help improve the quality of life of farmers, who are comparable to 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 are less frequent than his siblings which travel abroad are promoting their homeland in one manner or another. But in 2015, he made two high-profile public appearances in Thailand, leading thousands of people in mass bicycling events not only in Bangkok, but also nationwide to honored the birthdays of his parents, Queen Sirikit and King Bhumibol, also known as Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad. These two events have promoted unity and good health among the Thai people of all sectors.
Long live the King!