King of Siam Rama VII


Rama VII, Last Absolute Monarch

Siam was undergoing a turbulent time in history when Rama VII took the throne as the seventh monarch of Siam.  It is for this reason that he was the only Siamese monarch who was forced to abdicate his throne.  He was born to King Chulalongkorn and Queen Saovabha Bongsri.  He was the King’s second youngest child.  He chose to lead a military career after knowing that there is no likelihood that he will ever succeed to the throne.  Like his siblings, he was sent abroad to study.  He attended Eton College then later on Woolwich Military Academy both in Great Britain.

After King Chulalongkorn’s death, his older brother Prince Vajiravudh succeeded as King Rama VI.  For his part, Prince Prajadhipok was both commissioned to serve in both British and Siamese Armies.  King Rama VI maintained a neutral position during World War I and ordered his younger brother to resign in his British commission.  The Prince was greatly embarrassed but could not disobey the order of his brother, King Rama VI.  Like all Thai males, he was ordained temporarily as a monk.  Prince Prajadhipok married his childhood friend and cousin Mom Chao Rambhai Barni.  After the European war had ended he attended France “Ecole Superieure de Guere” and going back to serve in the Siamese military forces.

He was given the title Prince of Sukhothai.  He lived with his wife in their official residence Sukhothai Palace which is located next to the Chao Phraya River.  Even if it was a peaceful union this did not produce an heir.  However, he adopted a cousin as son and gave him the surname Sakdidej Savangwongse.  When his brother King Rama VI died he became Rama VII.  He was unprepared to take on the rule of his kingdom.  He had inherited the serious financial problems of his kingdom.  In fact, the timing could not be worse because the world was suffering from the Great Depression (severe worldwide economic depression following World War II).

He attempted to institute change by restoring the confidence of the people on the monarchy and his government after King Rama VI’s financial extravagances.  However, the move to create the Supreme Council of the State of Siam did not explain why it was formed in the first place.  Furthermore, his decision largely became totally dependent on this Supreme Council.  What he failed to convey was that he wanted to allow the common Thai a say in the running of the country’s affairs.

The 1932 Coup Attempt was a bloodless revolt proclaimed by the People’s Party.  This group demanded that King Rama VII adapt a constitutional monarchy.  He accepted this proposition.  He acknowledged the changing circumstances when he rose to meet the plotters.  In Siamese tradition, monarchs remain seated while their subjects bowed before him.  After several rebellions he was forced to abdicate the throne.  He died of a heart attack and was buried simply.  The Queen stayed in England during World War II.  She did help his countrymen by giving them much needed funds.  After the war she returned to Thailand with her husband’s ashes.  He was followed by his nephew Ananda Mahidol King of Siam, Rama VIII.