By THE NATION
LOOKING BACK in history, Thailand erupted with joy upon the birth of the prince on July 28, 1952, who would become King Rama X.
Back then, his father HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej had already reigned over the country for more than six years and had a daughter, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya. It was no secret that after the birth of the princess, Thais hoped his second child would be a prince.
By Thai law and tradition, only a male royal can ascend the throne. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) was the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty.
Excitement filled the air in 1951 when people got wind that the King’s Royal Consort, HM Queen Sirikit, was pregnant with their second child.
Several important figures headed to Ambhorn Sathan Villa, in the Dusit Palace, on July 28, 1952, when the delivery of the royal baby was expected.
HRH Princess Sri Nagarindra the Princess Mother, and HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, the King’s elder sister, turned up at noon.
The King was on hand with a camera to capture the very special moments.
Several other senior persons, including then-prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram, also showed up to serve as witnesses, to ensure that there was no mistake about the blue-blood baby’s identity. The witnesses checked the delivery room to ensure that there was no other baby before the queen delivered her child. They then waited outside.
The queen’s uncle, who was a doctor working at Chulalongkorn Hospital, helped deliver the prince, assisted by three nurses.
Then at 5.45pm on July 28, 1952, Prince Vajiralongkorn was born to the delight of all Thais.
“…The minute he was born, it started raining. They were the first rains in quite a long time that year. It was as if even heaven recognised his birth. Everyone was glad,” Prof MR Sumonchart Swasdikul recalled.
After the birth was announced, traditional music was played, the Royal Thai Army fired a 21-shot gun salute and “chai yo” (the Thai words for hurrah) echoed everywhere.
Four days later, the King wrote to the then-Supreme Patriarch to ask for a name for the prince.
A month later, the senior monk suggested that the prince should be named “Vajiralongkorn” – a combination of the names of his great grandfather (King Rama V) and his great-great grandfather (King Rama IV). King Rama V the Great is King Chulalongkorn while King Rama IV was widely known as “Vajirayan” during his monkhood.
The Supreme Patriarch reportedly also predicted the prince’s future, but it has been kept a secret.
Later, the prince had two younger sisters – HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana.
The King had resolved to set up the Chitralada School in the compound of the Chitralada Royal Villa to educate his children. Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya was the first student with student ID No 1. When her brother enrolled, he was student No 9.
The prince started learning at the Chitralada School on January 10, 1956.
“His Majesty had instructed teachers not to give any privileges to his children … but to inculcate in them a sense of discipline, responsibility, duty, punctuality and compassion,” Khunying Tassanee Bunyakupt, the headmistress of the school at that time, revealed later.
The Chitralada School has also enrolled children of the royal family’s friends, government officials and courtiers.
The prince was good in his studies and demonstrated his love for adventure. He seemed to love all kinds of adventurous activities. By 1961, he had started riding horses. When he joined the scout class at his school that year, his classmates chose him as the head of the unit.
Normally, the prince woke up about 7am. He was never late for class. On days when there was a scout class, he woke up even earlier and would polish his uniform’s insignia and belts.
In 1963, the prince participated in the parade alongside scouts from various schools at the National Stadium of Thailand, which was presided over by his parents. When people expressed concern that he might faint under the scorching sun, the prince said: “I can do this. Don’t look down on me.”
Two years later, he joined another scout parade and did not budge despite the heavy rains. A senior official tried to persuade him to take cover, but the prince said: “Why do I have to get under the roof? If other scouts can stand under the rain, I can, too. I am strong enough.”
The prince studied at the Chitralada School only until Mathayom 1, after which he went overseas for his education. His choice was in the field of military studies.
He was studying in Australia when his father called him back to Thailand for a grand investiture ceremony to grant him the title of Crown Prince on December 28, 1972.
In taking the title of Crown Prince, he vowed to be loyal to his nation, honest with his people, and carry out his duties to the best of his abilities for the prosperity, peace and security of Thailand throughout his life.
The next day at a garden party hosted by the government in celebration of his appointment, the Crown Prince said: “I am aware that I have a duty to and responsibility towards my country. Serving the country is an extremely important mission, which requires both wisdom and abilities. I shall persevere in my studies and practice to live up to my duty and fulfil public expectations of me”.