King of Siam Rama VI
Rama VI and Thai Democracy
Vajiravudh was the child of King Chulalongkorn and Queen Sri Bajarindra. Following the death of his older half-brother, Crown Prince Vajiravudh was appointed to this position at an early age of 16. He was educated in England’s prestigious Oxford University. He was known for his great affiliation with literature and poetry in both his native tongue and English. His coronation as King Rama VI was filled with pomp and pageantry. It was well attended by royal families from the countries of Denmark, Japan, Great Britain, Sweden and Russia. The famous Russian Imperial crown jeweler Carl Faberge was said to set up a temporary shop in the Oriental Hotel during the festivities.
He was openly criticized by detractors for spending too much time in the company of his male companions and acting up plays with them. A coup was plotted against him but it was soon put to rest when the conspirators were arrested and sentence to death. The king however overturned this judgment and decided to release the plotters. He was credited for building a university, the first Siam airport and translating the complete works of Shakespeare from English to Thai and vice versa.
He was known for instigating social reforms and promoting monogamy as the only legal form of marriage. He had also helped in protecting his countrymen against small pox by implementing vaccination. He supported Thai Red Cross. His greatest achievement however is to order his subjects to adapt surnames. He was a strong oppositionist against gambling and drugs particularly opium. Some of the citizens resisted these efforts by their King.
He set up Vajiravudh College, patterned after the British educational system. He was also responsible for constructing Chulalongkorn University in honor of his father. He was a born scholar who observed that his people lacked competence. This was mentioned in the book that he had written “Mud on Wheels”. All of his literary works were made to make his people think beyond what the words mean.
His overseas education was said to be blamed for his move to unknowingly isolate himself from his people. His love for English traditions made him create unwise decisions like forming a Royal Paramilitary Force under his command. This was a group built outside of the regular armed forces of Siam. He named this elite paramilitary group as Wild Tiger Corps. His other officers resented his decision. They soon plotted against him.
Later on, five years after his coronation, he declared war against Germany. His troops fought with the Allies during the latter part of World War I. He was successful in making the Allies see Siam as an equal. His supporters tried to marry him off to women but through several attempts, each relation did not prosper. However he did father a child who was named Royal Highness Princess Bejaratana through his 3rd wife, the Princess Consort Suvadhana. As a result, he remained without a male heir until the day he died. His brother Prajahipok became the new monarch thus he became Rama VII.