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Tue 28 Mar 2017
King Rama VI
Written by Wadee Kheourai   
Monday, 12 February 2007 01:16
Before the Democratic Period and Democracy in Thailand

Rama VI (1910 - 1925)

King Rama VI, also known as Mongkutklao or King Vajiravudh, was born on January 1, 1881. He was King Rama V's first son by Queen Saowaphaphongsi. He was educated in England at Sandhurst and Oxford. He studied in England for 9 years and returned to Thailand via the U.S.A., Canada and Japan. He reached Thailand in January, 1903 and resided at the Saranrom Palace. He was appointed the Crown Prince in 1894. When King Rama V passed away on October 23, 1910, Prince Vajiravudh ascended the throne to become King Rama VI.

At the beginning of the reign, a plot was discovered.The king took quick steps to protect his throne and to promote nationalism through the founding of the Wild Tigers' Corps and also the Bay Scout Movement in Siam. He continued to improve the administration by reorganization of some ministers. He combined many monthon (circles) to form regions. He tried to teach self-government to the people through the building of a miniature city called "Dusit Thani" at Dusit Palace.

The Royal Air Force and Fishery Departments were established. Rama VI introduced compulsory education by announcing a Primary Education Act in 1921. He raised the status of the Civil Service College to a (first) university on March 26, 1917 and named it Chulalongkorn University as a memorial to his father. He furthered "Westernized" the nation by making the Thai calendar conform to the Western models. He created last names for the people, and graciously invented some of them. This was a great change for the country because in the past only first names were used.

Thai women wore Western hair styles and skirts in place of shorter hair and the pha-nung or Jongkaben (waist-cloth)with the end pulled between their legs and tucked in at the back). In 1927 the Siamese flag was changed from a white elephant on a red background to the present design, the parallel red, white and blue stripes, representing the combination of nation, religion and The King.

"The King was very gifted as a literary man and composed many works of great merit both in prose and poetry. He wrote plays, encouraged music and often acted in plays himself. He translated three of Shakepeare's works into Thai, and they were done so well in poetic style that the original charm was kept."

The plays were "The Merchant of Venice", "As You Like It", "Romeo and Juliet". The King promoted the arts in all forms. The famous plays he wrote are "Matthanaphata" and "Sakuntala". Asvaphahu and Ramchitti were his pen names.

Information from: "Thai Studies Through Games" Book 1 by Assist. Prof. Wadee Kheourai.