An exhibition marking the birthday of His Majesty King Rama X goes on show at Siam Paragon
IN AN exhibition that’s guaranteed to fascinate both Thais and foreign visitors, a collection of rare photographs detailing the life and duties of King Rama X is showing at Siam Paragon until Sunday.
The show entitled “The Succession of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun”, which marks the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday on July 28, is being presented by the Queen Savang Vadhana Foundation together with Ministry of Culture and Siam Piwat and pays tribute to His Majesty King Rama X’s resolution made on December 1, 2016 at Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Dusit Palace to fulfil the wishes of His Majesty the late King Rama IX and work for the benefit of all Thais. His Coronation is yet to be held.
The great-grandson of Queen Savang Vadhana is seen as an infant in the first section of the exhibition, which is devoted to his biography, royal virtues and childhood. The photographs show His Majesty the King as a baby, noting that he came into this world on July 28, 1952 at 5.45pm in the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. ML Kaset Snidvongs was the doctor in attendance. He was just three days old when his father, His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, granted the traditional royal welcome ceremony. The 13th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand gave the child his first name at birth.
He is the only son and the second of the four children of Their Majesties the late King and Queen Sirikit. When he was born, Queen Savang Vadhana was 90 years old. The Queen Great-Grandmother passed away in 1955, the year Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born.
The text accompanying the photographs, some of them in monochrome, explain the auspicious traditional royal ceremony when the prince turned one-month old and show him in a cot decorated with pale-yellow lace, the colour of Monday, the day on which His Majesty was born. It adds that on the day the ceremony took place, the yellow honeycomb trees, known to be favourite flower of King Rama V and planted around the Amphorn Sathan Residental Hall, were in full bloom.
His Royal Highness Prince Vajiralongkorn began his education in 1956 in the Phra Thinang Udon-pak wing within the compound of Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, where his sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana was also studying. The permanent building was later constructed in the compound of the Chitralada Royal Villa and became known as the Chitralada School in Dusit Palace. This section of the exhibition also features photographs of the King’s childhood including pictures of his drawings and clay moulds.
In 1966, he was sent to attend public school in the UK, enrolling first at King’s Mead School in Seaford, Sussex, and then at Millfield School, Somerset, where he completed his secondary education in July 1970. During his time there, he was known simply as V Mahidol.
In September 1970, he attended a military training course at The King’s School in Sydney, Australia, where he was assigned to MacArthur House. Two years later, the prince enrolled at Australia’s Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Canberra where he went by the name Staff Cadet V Mahidol and where discipline was as harsh for him as for the other cadets. He was praised for his ability both academically and in sports.
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.
He was proclaimed Crown Prince on December 28, 1972 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 forms part of the exhibition.
The second section displays the countless royal duties carried out by King Maha Vajiralongkorn for Thailand and the Thai people since assuming the title of Crown Prince.
He is, of course, well known for the major roles he has played in the Thai military, serving in the Royal Thai Armed Forces, making frequent tours of the provinces and representing King Bhumibol at a wide variety of official functions and ceremonies before he acceded to throne.
The King has also spent periods training with the US, British, and Australian armed services, studying unconventional warfare and advanced navigation. In 1978 he became head of the King’s Own Bodyguard Battalion. A qualified fixed-wing and helicopter pilot, he holds a licence to fly the Northrop F-5 and many other aircraft including the F-16 and the Boeing 737-400.
His name is also attached to medical care with the Crown Prince Hospitals set up in 21 locations in 1977 from funds donated by the public to serve as health care centres for people living in remote areas. These hospitals have become major community hospitals providing services of international standard to the general public.
Interested in agricultural development like his father, the Mobile Agricultural Clinic Project was initiated under his royal patronage. The project provides prompt services to farmers in order to enhance efficiency in farm production and solve problems as well as to provide advice in agricultural technology to increase productivity and improve the quality of agricultural production.
The third section is devoted to the King’s gratitude and appreciation towards his parents, showing him engaged in activities as part of his military role, screening risk areas before Her Majesty the Queen visited, among them the area around the then Cambodian refugee camp at Khao Larn in Trat Province.
In recent years, however, his military role has become increasingly ceremonial.
The exhibition also pays tribute to His Majesty the King’s abilities in the fields of art, architecture and literature and includes the poem he wrote on the auspicious occasion of the Fifth Birthday Cycle of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, which has been engraved on a silver plate and is displayed at Phra Tamnak Siriyalai in Ayutthaya province.
Visitors can also admire his New Year greeting cards to Thais. One reads, “Be happy in every season, because we walk hand in hand guided by mindfulness”. The other says, “Be happy in physical health and mental health with intelligence, love and compassion. We are ready to move forward. Happy New Year and ever after.” The card is signed and dated January 1, 2018.
The last zone of the exhibition features His Majesty’s honours, including medal and awards from various institutes both domestic and international.
IN PRAISE OF OUR KING
- “The Succession of Maha Vachiralongkorn” continues at the Life Style Hall on the second floor of Siam Paragon until Sunday before moving to the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre in Chiang Mai from August 16 to 26.
- It will also be shown at the Royal Community Hall at Klai Kang Won Palace, Hua Hin from October 3 to 7.