The earliest speeches of Vajiravudh as king abound in declarations of his intention of following in his father’s footsteps. And his earliest actions were in no way disruptive of the past. In fact, traditional Thai administrative practices worked against rapid change of men or policies at the highest levels of government. For a monarch inherited the entire apparatus of his predecessor’s government; the principal ministers were never removed from their posts or power. Vajiravudh had no immediate desire to disturb old officials who were inclined to regard the edifice of state created by Chulalongkorn as embodying “all that was absolute and right” and were “inclined instinctively to regard any possible reversal or even modification of … policy as 14a sort of sacrilege.”2 He recognized the hold of “antiquated traditions” and appraised his situation realistically: “Just at first things are bound to move rather slowly, because of the many difficulties I have to surmount.”3
Further, there was not much time in the early months of the reign for important change. There were countless ceremonies to be got through: the rites preliminary to the cremation of Chulalongkorn; the coronation of Vajiravudh on November 11; and, finally, the cremation of Chulalongkorn on March 16, 1911.
Yet Vajiravudh felt the need for something to signify that new directions would be pursued, to impress on his own people and the world outside that a new era had begun in Siam. The something decided on was a second grand coronation to be held at the end of 1911, well after the last obsequies for Chulalongkorn would be over.4
The coronation of kings in Thailand is an elaborate Brahmanic rite in which the royal name is inscribed on a golden tablet and the king takes a purificatory bath, receives the waters of consecration—eight waters brought from the eight directions of the kingdom—while sitting on an octagonal throne and facing in the appropriate direction, accepts the royal regalia (the crown is merely one of these), performs various kinds of almsgiving, holds ceremonial audiences with princes and ministers, and makes progresses around the capital by land and water. The ceremonies signify, in ancient Brahmanic thought, the king’s assumption of divinity. In Siam the king could not claim the full powers and name of king until the key rite of consecration had taken place. And so the coronation ceremony was usually held within a week—in no case longer than a month—after accession to power.
Such a ceremony was conducted in November. Meanwhile, preparations were already going on for the second grand coronation to take place a little over a year later.5
The decision to hold a second coronation must have been made very early, possibly even before Vajiravudh acceded. For the first coronation omitted the traditional, though not essential, processions around the capital.6 The idea of holding a European-style coronation celebration was undoubtedly stimulated by Vajiravudh’s participation in the accession ceremonies of Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1902 and in the coronation festivities of Edward VII of England in the same year. For Siam to hold a similar celebration, with Vajiravudh hosting representatives of royal houses and ruling parties of the leading states of the world, would give Siam unprecedented prominence and dignity.
15Some Thai were apprehensive, before the second coronation took place, that the ceremony itself would be conducted on Western lines.7 Such fears were unfounded. Vajiravudh had no intention of having anything but a typical Thai coronation to which would be added festivities for foreign guests and the Thai population.
Vajiravudh’s reasons for respect for Brahmanic ritual, particularly in relation to Thai coronations, were made manifest in one of his essays.8 He argued against those “modernists” who would abandon old rituals in favor of Western models by pointing out that Siam was not a Western country, that modern Western notions should be adopted only when their utility was unmistakable, and that abandonment of Siam’s past was to bring Siam back to the jungle, to make the Thai a primitive folk without a history or heritage. Insofar as the Brahmanic rites were concerned, he argued that, although it was true that the Thai were not Hindus but Buddhists, some aspects of life were not the concern of Buddhism. Buddhist monks might chant at coronations, for example, but the heart of the ceremony in Siam had always been not Buddhist but Brahmanic. And so, if for no other reason than to insure legitimacy in the installation of new kings, Brahman priests should be retained and supported.
Other traditions were highlighted even before the grand coronation. Among the most important were those associated with auguries. Supernatural signs of favor were eagerly sought at beginnings of reigns. Such signs were common throughout Indianized Southeast Asia, and ranged from earthquakes to showers of gemstones.9 Vajiravudh’s reign started with a succession of highly regarded portents: discoveries of some ancient bronze pieces—first, a flag standard bearing designs of a monkey and a garuda (a mythical bird); then, a bow and some arrows. These ancient articles, it was speculated, were once used in Brahmanic ceremonies. All these bronze pieces were presented to the King, who had replicas made for use in subsequent ceremonies. Also within the first months of the reign an albino elephant was found and presented to the King. In Siam and Burma the so-called white elephant was very highly regarded, and the discovery and capture of one at the beginning of a reign was considered very auspicious indeed.
Much was made of all these signs by high officials and the King. Vajiravudh, for example, ordered Prince Damrong, head of the Ministry of the Interior, to publicize the portentous acquisitions by printing a letter by the King about them in the journal of local government (Nangsu̓ thesaphiban); the King noted that all government servants would thereby be inspired to work more industriously for 16the benefit of the country.10 One official publicly stated that, by these omens of highest import, “we are … convinced that Your Majesty was destined to be the great leader of our race.”11 Vajiravudh drew special joy from these “boons of supernatural power” and “objects of transcendent virtue.”12 He recalled from history the story of an ancient king who had found jewels and pearls on the shores of the sea and was still famous for his meritorious rule. He took particular pleasure in the bow and arrows, which he named “The Bow and Arrows of Rama’s Strength,” deriving meaning from the symbolism of these objects as weapons: “sure manifestations that warriors have not yet ceased to exist in the Land of the Thai.”13 He made much of their presumed association with Rama, the Hindu god whose name Vajiravudh was later to appropriate, and of the fact that at the end of one of the arrows was a trident (wachira, or vajira), a symbol Vajiravudh favored because it was part of his name: “almost as if made for me, and so all the more pleasing.”14
The Grand Coronation
The coronation proper, with its key ceremony of consecration on December 2, was essentially a repeat of the time-honored ritual conducted a year earlier. This is not to say that the new coronation was devoid of emotional impact. In a remarkably intimate letter to his younger brother Chakrabongs, written on the evening of “this the greatest day of my life,” Vajiravudh confided, “When the water of consecration fell first upon my head this morning, my tears fell with it. They were tears of mingled joy and sorrow.”15
The most significant changes in the coronation proper were made in the concluding rites. For the first time, they were held in the handsome hall called Dusit Maha Prasat. Ordinarily this building was used for the long lying-in-state rituals and therefore was unavailable for coronations. In 1911, however, the hall was available, and Vajiravudh had the building renovated, removing some interior pillars that obstructed the view.16 So the final ceremonies of accepting the royal regalia and conducting audiences were held in this grand hall, in the presence of many princes, officials, and foreign guests.
In the eyes of the foreigners present, the “supreme moment” was the crowning of the King by himself. The crown was a dazzling golden spire glittering with diamonds. When the crown came to rest, a “loud peal of joy burst out. All the ancient musical instruments were played with energy; the troops presented arms; the bands played the royal anthem; the four kinds of cannons used in ceremonies were fired; and the sound was taken up by the guns of the Army 17and the Navy firing a salute of 101 guns. The bell at every temple throughout the Kingdom was beaten seven times, and in every monastery the monks assembled and prayed for a blessing on the King.”17
After the ceremonies inside Dusit Maha Prasat were completed, an unprecedented new spectacle was staged. Between the entrances at the top of the parallel flights of stairs at the north face of the hall is a high and magnificently carved and heavily gilded balcony that faces a courtyard. On the balcony is a spired, gilded throne. A grander setting for a ceremony could hardly be imagined, and it was here that Vajiravudh held the final audience of his coronation day—the audience for the people. The princes and high officials had witnessed the ceremonies within the hall; now Vajiravudh wanted to show himself to the lower ranks and the general population, groups that had never before been so intimately associated with a coronation. These groups were represented by lesser civil and military officials, who were assembled in the courtyard facing the balcony. The crowd was large, larger than any that could have been accommodated inside a royal hall. And Vajiravudh’s appearance before them was strikingly dramatic. All three sides of the balcony were draped, concealing the throne from the view of the crowd in the courtyard. The King entered by a rear door. At a signal the drums were beaten, the music flared, the soldiers presented arms, and the drapes were drawn—suddenly revealing the King seated on the throne, glittering in the sun above the crowd.18
Starting with the evening of the coronation day, there followed a round of parading and partying such as the old capital, used as it was to royal merrymaking, had never before seen crowded into such a short space of time. Vajiravudh’s purposes in this grand display are clear. He wanted to draw into the mood of joy as many of his people as he could, to bring them together, have them share together, feel together the exhilaration of the time. And he wanted to impress his Western guests with Siam’s progress, strength, and unity. The drums and bells, the fetes and pageants signaled not only the start of a new reign but also the bold entrance of nationalism as a state policy.
The most novel part of the coronation activities was the involvement of foreigners. Not that the presence of foreigners was entirely unprecedented. Chulalongkorn in 1873 and, before him, Mongkut in 1851 had invited foreigners to their inaugural rites.19 The foreign guests on those earlier occasions, however, had been merely individuals who happened to be resident in Bangkok at the time. Vajiravudh’s innovation was to adopt the European fashion and send invitations directly to the capitals of countries with whom Siam had treaty relations. The foreign guests he aimed for, and by and large got, were thus in the category of royal equals, of courtly “kin,” rather than the less dignified status of local representatives of the diplomatic corps.18
Public Audience on Coronation Day (Mural in Anantasamakhom Throne Hall).
19Who came? Although no reigning sovereign did—time and distance in the age before jet, or even prop, travel prevented that—the list of guests was impressive. Altogether there were some twenty-five royal representatives and special representatives (plus their entourages) representing fourteen governments. Ten of the guests were members of royal families. The great powers—England, France, Russia, Germany, the United States, and Japan—were all represented. The editorial writer of a local English-language newspaper reflected the general view: “Siam is feeling very proud and a little anxious. Never before have there been gathered in this capital so many Princes of foreign Reigning Families. Such a gathering of Royalties, the guests of the Sovereign, is comparatively a rare thing in a European capital, and is without precedent outside Europe.”20
The preparations for impressing this distinguished foreign assembly were unstinting in labor and expense. As early as July the press caught the “general expectation that previous records in magnificence will be surpassed.”21 The whole capital was involved in a face-lift. People living along procession routes were ordered to paint their houses. Some 2,000 men were set to work refurbishing the Grand Palace. One royal building was turned into a museum to display “the priceless gold and silver vessels of ancient Siamese design and the collection of old time instruments of war.” Another hall was extensively remodeled and fitted with lavish appointments to serve as “Theatre Royal” for the dramatic productions to be staged for the coronation festivities. And many palaces about town, including Saranrom, Amphο̨n, and the group in Dusit Park, were spruced up to serve as residences for the foreign guests. In those which lacked Western-style bathrooms, these facilities were installed. Some 750 tons of furniture were ordered from abroad as part of the program to provide the guests with nothing but the best.22
Foreign guests began arriving at the end of November. They were immediately caught up in a swirl of entertainments. Prince Chakrabongs, who was the heir presumptive and had represented Siam at the coronation of George V in England just five months before, was appointed the King’s official greeter. He met the guests on arrival and saw them to their accommodations. On at least four occasions 20before the coronation, the King himself met with groups of foreign guests. Foreigners were admitted to all the important coronation ceremonies. And luncheon and dinner parties, theatrical performances, illuminations, troop displays and parades, trips to temple fairs, and excursions to the old capital at Ayutthaya and the palace at Bang Pa-in were arranged. All high Thai royalty—including Queen Mother Saowapha, Prince Chakrabongs, Prince Yugala, Prince Paribatra, Prince Damrong, Prince Devawongse, and Prince Chira—were involved as hosts, wining and dining the visitors.
But the principal host was the King himself, who started the postcoronation round of partying with a gala performance of the Thai masked drama at the Theatre Royal on the evening of December 2. The King was also host of the Coronation Ball on December 6—not Siam’s first such fancy dress affair, but one that “surpassed any that had gone before.”23 Throughout the days to December 10, when the final banquet and last fireworks display took place, Vajiravudh gave extraordinary personal attention to the guests, overcoming, in the words of Swedish Prince William, his “first shyness” to become a lively conversationalist.24
A Grand Success
The products of this trouble were all that had been desired. The foreign press and foreign guests were lavish and, presumably, sincere in their praise. The local English-language press editorialized: “Siam does well to be proud of the position she has attained, and of the sympathy and friendship shown her by all the other nations with which she has relations.”25 The coronation received wide and complimentary attention from the overseas press, with photographs and feature articles appearing in such publications as The National Geographic26 and the Daily Mirror.27 The American minister, in his birthday greetings to the King on January 1 on behalf of the entire diplomatic corps, referred to the coronation as “graced by the approval of such a representation of the World’s Powers as never before was seen in Siam,” as “successful beyond the expectations of her most ardent friends,” and as having “given this People a new place among the World’s family of Nations.”28 Prince William, who stayed on a while after the other foreigners had gone, was much impressed with the coronation, noting “I have never seen a crowned head sustain his dignity better than did Maha Vajiravudh on December 2, 1911”;29 he also wrote of “the truly magnificent Oriental hospitality that was shown us by our royal host.”30
The Siamese themselves thought they had done well. The 21Minister of Local Government termed the coronation “an event unparalleled in success and splendour in the history of our nation.”31 Finally the King, who acknowledged that the presence of so many high foreign dignitaries had at first filled all with “grave anxiety” lest anything go wrong and bring Siam worldwide criticism, noted with joy that the affair had achieved success “beyond our most sanguine expectations.” He complimented everyone for helping “to bring about this satisfactory issue,” which, he stated, “shows that we Siamese are yet far from the path of decline as a nation, and have no reason to be ashamed of ourselves before the nations who are ever watching us.” Vajiravudh took special pride that of all Asian peoples “we Siamese … are the first nation to have attempted, and accomplished with unqualified success, such a great undertaking” involving “the great nations of the world.” The King was confident that the coronation had won Siam the “good opinion” of the nations and had “demonstrated to the world” the strength of Thai national unity.32
The unity “demonstrated” by the participation of the populace in the coronation festivities was in fact a deliberate goal the King hoped the festivities would help realize. Never had so many people from so many strata of society been as actively participant in a coronation before. The route of the royal progress by land on December 3 followed a long path through the city. The procession stopped first at a large temporary pavilion especially constructed on the grounds of the city’s great square, the Royal Plaza (sanam luang), where the King received an address of welcome from the people. The procession also stopped at another pavilion in the northern sector of town to exchange courtesies with representatives of the European resident community. And it stopped at two temples en route. On December 4 the progress by water took place. On December 5 the King returned to the pavilion at the Royal Plaza to address the students. On the sixth, various regiments of the army were presented with colors at the same site. And on the next day, His Majesty reviewed the troops. On the eighth, Vajiravudh drove to the heart of the business district to receive the compliments of the Chinese and Indian communities. The ninth and tenth were devoted to the King’s special volunteer corps called the Wild Tigers.
Every effort seems to have been made to attract as many people as possible to most of these affairs. The line of march was always dense with people. The students’ homage brought an assembly of 10,000 children. The military displays involved 30,000 troops, including many brought in from distant provinces.
22The speeches given on the several occasions were full of formal compliments and well-wishing on one side, grateful thanks on the other. But there was more. The King was conveying an important message: in his remarks to his own people—the general populace, the students, the military—he set forth for the first time before large public assemblies the need for the unity of his people and, in brief form, some of his principal notions of Thai nationalism. The address to the people is typical. In it he pointed to the heritage of the Thai as a free people, thanks to the “patriotic self-denial” and “great sacrifice, even to the giving up of life” of the “noble ancestors of our Race.” He said that Siam’s essential strength was derived from the devotion of the people to their nation, to their religion, and to their king. He pledged never to spare himself or his personal comfort in pursuit of his sacred duty to preserve Siam’s absolute independence. But, he stated, he could not discharge his high mission unaided; he needed the “mutual help and accord” of all. The people should perform their duties, obey the laws, show “mutual consideration,” set aside “self-indulgence.” If the Thai people were imbued with “patriotic intentions” and if they strove in unison to further the best interests of the country, Siam’s future existence “as a free and independent nation will be absolutely assured.” He concluded:
Let no person of the Thai Race forget these high principles. Remember that we are born free and that our nation is known to the world as the Nation of the Free. Help, therefore, each other with your whole heart to maintain and uphold our precious independence unto eternity.33
Signs of popular excitement during the festive coronation days were not lacking. Most were undoubtedly expressions of simple natural exuberance, a holiday mood. For, on top of everything else, the time of the coronation coincided with that of the usual winter carnival celebrations that the Thai, basically an agricultural people, had traditionally enjoyed in the times between harvest and new planting. In one surprising moment, the King himself literally got carried away by the crowd. He and his sister, Princess Walai, were returning from a late reception given by the navy. They entered their carriage, and before anyone knew what was happening a group of sailors took up the carriage and pulled it out into the road “amid the cheers of the guests and of the naval men.” The sailors moved at a run. They approached the palace. “Here the enthusiasm became infectious and the large crowds who had been watching the theatricals joined the procession. With an impetuosity that would not be denied, they rushed past the shocked palace guards … and only 23halted when they had brought the Sovereign to his Home. The King smiled his thanks and retired within the Palace.”34 This incident is remarkably similar to one that occurred at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887, when a mob of working men ran alongside the Queen’s carriage “shouting with the full strength of their lungs, ‘Go it, Old Girl! You done it well! You done it well!’” and the Queen responded “to the ‘Old Girl’ greeting with jolly nods and laughter that had in them nothing of ceremony or stateliness.”35
A similar kind of infectious good feeling was evident on the day the children presented their homage. The children had listened to the King’s call that they study hard and be a credit to their nation; they had marched; they had sung songs, including a special patriotic song composed by the King. When the King was preparing to depart, they began to cheer him, and the cheering “from the wide open mouths of healthy youngsters … surprised everyone by its strength. The school flags, and handkerchiefs were waved, hats thrown in the air, and the motions of the bandsmen were the only signs that the National Anthem was being played. The cheering continued long after His Majesty had passed out of sight….” After the festivities the “highly excited” children were reluctant to go home; their parents had a hard time rounding them up: “The moon was high before the last batch got away and enthusiasm still ran high—so much so that the lads went marching and singing through the streets to their homes.”36
The efforts to bring about a wave of popular enthusiasm for the King and his policies through the coronation celebration seem to have been as successful as were the efforts to impress the Western visitors. The local press was convinced that the children, for example, had proved their ability to respond to the King’s appeal to their sense of loyalty. “Most significant of all,” the press editorialized, the coronation showed that “the enthusiasm of the people has been growing. They are become more than ever proud of their King, and more than ever eager to co-operate in the realisation of his ideals.”37 The King reached essentially the same conclusion. In his annual birthday address on January 1, 1912, he commended all his people for making “the great national event” a success. The success that it was, the lack of “a single disturbance of any kind,” constituted “undoubted proof that the people recognised that the event was not merely a ceremony for the King alone but the supreme demonstration and expression of the national independent existence….”38
The equation of public fervor with national devotion was an easy one to make for someone familiar with European thought of the times. 24Certainly the causal pairing of joy and loyalty was common in late nineteenth-century England. Tennyson summed it all up in these lines in “On the Jubilee of Queen Victoria”:
You then joyfully, all of you,
Set the mountain aflame to-night,
Shoot your stars to the firmament,
Deck your houses, illuminate
All your towns for a festival,
And in each let a multitude
Loyal, each, to the heart of it,
One full voice of allegiance,
Hail the fair Ceremonial
Of this year of her Jubilee.39
None of this kind of loyal jubilation was part of Thai heritage. Most ceremonies, including coronations, had been private affairs, terrible in their magic, performed by and for a god-king to ensure the potency of his divine powers. In the end the ceremonies were for the benefit of the people, but that certainly did not mean they should be staged for the people’s benefit. Quite the contrary. The need to ensure ritual purification was paramount. The defilement of ceremonies was not merely lèse majesté, it struck back at the defiler by reducing royal potency and thus adversely affected the whole kingdom. Even the royal progresses by land and water at the coronation’s end were not originally for the benefit of public observers but signified ritual “possession” of the state. People were expected to stay indoors, out of sight, so they would not be harmed by the awesome power of His Majesty’s gaze.
Change in this attitude toward ceremonies had been started by King Mongkut in the 1850s. Mongkut, who had spent twenty-seven years before his accession as a Buddhist monk, deemphasized some Hinduist elements and added Buddhist elements in court ritual, thus bringing the crown closer to the people. Chulalongkorn continued this policy. In fact, Chulalongkorn apparently wished for more Western-style public displays than his people would dare to give him; he “hankered for a more spontaneous welcome from the people, for something nearer to that which was accorded to European royalty when they went on tour.” His officials tried to teach the people to “cheer and wave their hats,” but these efforts failed: “to the country people the King was still a deity, someone to be feared”; they dared not “take familiarities with the gods that they were not accustomed to.”40 Vajiravudh, so much closer to the West than either of his 25predecessors, and farther away than they from the ideal and ethos of the god-king, wanted the public displays even more and was willing to go to far greater lengths to get them.
Similarly with the desire to impress the West. The desire was not new. Mongkut delighted in exhibiting his knowledge of Western science, language, and culture. Chulalongkorn gave lavish dinner parties, constructed extravagant marble palaces in the Italian style. Vajiravudh built upon this public relations approach to international affairs that, ephemeral and “unproductive” as it may have seemed, had proved to be effective in convincing Westerners that Siam was truly becoming modern and progressive.
The price for all the festivities and foreigners’ approbation was high. The second coronation was an enormously expensive affair. The costs totaled almost two million dollars, or nearly 8 percent of the national budget for 1911. The amount spent was about ten times the amount initially allocated. In the view of many commentators writing long after the event, such a huge outlay of money for a showy spectacle was a waste, the kind of waste of public money characteristic of Siam’s most extravagant, most prodigal king. Although at the time the King did not hear such criticisms—“for no one speaks out loudly enough to reach my ears”—he was aware of their possible existence. In his diary he wrote, “I admit we certainly did spend a lot of money.” But he reasoned that, far from being a waste, coronation expenses were a worthwhile investment. The state could be compared to a business concern: capital had to be risked for a business to thrive. “We Thai,” he wrote, “are too shortsighted to be good businessmen … we are similarly shortsighted in state affairs.” “My purpose,” said the King, “is to lead Thai thought into broader and larger paths. And this ceremony was part of that policy.”41
The money spent was certainly not all wasted. It is true that Vajiravudh loved show. And perhaps he bought more show than was really required. It is difficult, of course, to put a fair price on “nationalism”; it is easier to estimate the cost of a dam, a bridge, or a power plant. Perhaps Vajiravudh did unconsciously spend some of the money for ego fulfillment, yet his conscious aim was to use the coronation to further a program of nation building by swelling his people’s awareness of nation. He realized the limits of the coronation as a means of doing this. And he said so. In summing up the hectic coronation time, he reminded his people that they must not be carried away by exultation at the coronation’s success and “forget that there are other duties that have to be performed.” He warned the Thai that they must not let foreigners “look upon us as only fit to make 26useless grand outward displays.” He concluded, however, that the display would not prove useless if we “set our minds to make the unanimity existing in our nation more intensified” and “always bear in mind that the interests of the State and nation stand first and foremost.”42 The coronation was but the means to implant an idea, and that idea was nationalism, from which all good things would flow.
1. King’s reply to speech of Prince Svasti, January 5, 1915, in Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet phra mongkutklao čhaoyuhua (Bangkok: Bamrung, 1929), p. 134.
2. W. A. Graham, Siam (London: Moring, 1924), vol. 1:226.
3. King to Prince Chakrabongs, December 2, 1911, in Chula Chakrabongse, Lords of Life, p. 272.
4. Second coronations were unusual but not unprecedented. Rama I had a second coronation when he moved to his new palace in Bangkok in 1785; Chulalongkorn had a second coronation at the end of the regency period in 1873. See Hο̨phrasamut Samrap Phranakhο̨n, Čhotmaihet phraratchaphithi bο̨romrachaphisek (Bangkok: Sophon, 1924), pp. 3–4.
5. For general remarks on Thai coronation rites, see Wales, pp. 67–120; for a general description of Vajiravudh’s coronations, see Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek.
6. Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, p. 3.
7. BT, December 9, 1911.
8. Introduction to Phra sunhasep (Bangkok: Khurusapha, 1961), pp. viii–xii.
9. On auguries in general, see Wales, p. 62 and passim. There were also omens portending the end of a reign. One “miracle,” the appearance of mysterious lights circling the peak of Phra Pathom Čhedi, Siam’s tallest and oldest Buddhist stupa, was reported by Prince Vajiravudh to his father as having occurred on October 24, 1909; see Vajiravudh to the King, October 26, 1909, and the King’s reply, October 27, 1909, in Chamun Amorn Darunrak, Kamnoet phraratchawang sanamčhan (Bangkok: Khurusapha, 1968), pp. 22–26. This miracle, occurring within a day of the date of the death of Chulalongkorn a year later, was subsequently interpreted as portending his death; see Prince William of Sweden, In the Lands of the Sun (London: Nash, 1915), pp. 122–123.
10. Thawi, pp. 167–176, who quotes Prince Damrong to the King, March 26, 1911, and the King to Damrong, March 26, 1911. The manuscript letters are in NA 37/1. See also RKB 28, April 9, 1911, p. 37.
11. BT, December 5, 1911; Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, p. 145.
12. Rama VI manuscript quoted in Amorn, Kamnoet phraratchawang, p. 21.
13. King’s address to the people on December 3, 1911, in BT, December 5, 1911, and Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, p. 149.
14. Thawi, p. 175.
15. Chula Chakrabongse, Lords of Life, p. 272.
16. Somphop Phirom, Kutakhan (Bangkok: Krung Sayam, 1970), p. 59. Also the throne called Pradamuk, built during the first reign of the Bangkok 277dynasty, was replaced by the Manangkhasila throne, which was built around the stone used as a throne by King Ramkhamhaeng in thirteenth-century Sukhothai. See Chamun Amorn Darunrak, Phraratchakaraniyakit … ru̓ang phraratchaprapheni (Bangkok: Khurusapha, 1971), vol. 2:9–10.
17. BT, December 4, 1911. The details given in the English-language newspaper are in substantial agreement with those given in Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, pp. 124–125. The Thai account does not stress the crowning itself. It seems likely, however, that for the benefit of the foreign guests Vajiravudh placed more emphasis on the actual “coronation” than was customary.
18. Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, pp. 131–133; BT, December 4, 1911. The strong impression this moment made on the King himself is indicated by his choice of it as the subject of the mural of his reign on a wall of the throne hall, Anantasamakhom, which was opened in 1917.
19. On the foreign visitors to Mongkut’s coronation, the royal chronicle states: “Being very well disposed towards foreign visitors, the King granted them audience, to enable them to view his royal person on the occasion of the coronation.” See Čhaophraya Thiphakο̨nwong, Phraratchaphongsawadan krung ratanakosin ratchakan thi 4 (Bangkok: Khurusapha, 1961), vol. 1: 17–18.
20. BT, November 29, 1911.
21. Ibid., July 15, 1911.
22. Ibid., October 13, October 26, October 28, October 31, November 9, and November 30, 1911. Also Amorn, Phraratchakaraniyakit … ru̓ang phraratchaprapheni, vol. 2:14.
23. BT, December 7, 1911. Two previous balls are mentioned: one in 1897, celebrating Chulalongkorn’s return from Europe; one in 1903, given in honor of Vajiravudh’s return to Siam.
24. William, p. 28.
25. BT, December 4, 1911.
26. April 1912.
27. Early January 1912.
28. BT, January 2, 1912.
29. William, p. 59.
30. Ibid., p. 141.
31. Address of Čhaophraya Yommarat to the King, January 1, 1912, in BT, January 5, 1912.
32. King’s reply to address of Čhaophraya Yommarat, January 1, 1912, in Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, pp. 24–27, and BT, January 5, 1912.
33. The King’s address to the people, December 3, 1911, in BT, December 5, 1911, and Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet … bο̨romrachaphisek, pp. 148, 150.
34. BT, December 9, 1911. 278
35. The Queen Victoria incident, dramatized by Laurence Housman in Victoria Regina, is reported as he saw it in The Unexpected Years (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1936), p. 184,
36. BT, December 6, 1911.
37. Ibid., December 5, 1911.
38. Ibid., January 5, 1912; Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, p. 25.
39. The Poetic and Dramatic Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1898), p. 527.
40. Smith, p. 84. See also BT, December 24, 1915, from a report by the Chiangrai correspondent on the visit of Prince Chakrabongs to Chiangrai in December 1915: “Europeans and Americans in Siam all notice the lack of popular enthusiasm over Royalty. The people think it is ‘becoming,’ ‘proper,’ to shrink and be discreetly silent in the presence of one of their rulers even at a public reception in the open. I asked a man this morning ‘Were you really glad to see the Prince?’ He said ‘I was truly glad!’ I remarked ‘Well you looked like a stone image! Why did you not shout and cheer?’ He said ‘It would not be proper!’”
41. Čhotmaihetraiwan, pp. 41–42.
42. The King’s address to the people, January 1, 1912, in BT, January 5, 1912, and Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, p. 26.