PHRA POK-KLAW CHAOYUHUA
King Rama VII (1925-1934)
His Majesty "King
Phra-Pok-Klao Chaoyuhua" (Rama VII), popularly known as Prajadhipok, was
the 7th King of the Chakri Dynasty. He was born in Bangkok on November 8,
1893. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his elder brother, King
Vajiravudh. He had not expected to become king-indeed until nine months
before the death of King Vajiravudh the heir presumptive to the throne had
been Prince Asdang Dejavudh, Prince of Nakron Rajasima, and with his death
in February, 1925, Prince Prajadhipok became heir presumptive. He was
quite a capable king and had made many personal sacrifices for the good of
the country during his reign. For example, overcoming the economic
depression after World War I; his consent to be King under a
constitutional monarchy system after the 1932 Revolution; his abdication
from the throne and his keen interest in promoting Thai art and culture.
King Rama VII was crowned on November 26,1925 and abdicated the
throne in March 2,1934, reigning for a period of nine strictly observed
all the ten monarchical principles which is required of all Thai kings.
One of the most important decision he made and that proved very beneficial
to the country was when, during the June 24,1932 revolution he agreed to
remain King under the constitution despite the fact that he maintained a
large armed forces still loyal to him and could certainly have fought the
so-called "Kana Raj" revolutionists.
Later on, when the new
government did not follow the pattern that would have eventually made
Thailand a truly democratic country, King Rama VII gallantly and
resolutely sacrificed himself by abdicating the throne. He did this to
open the way for persons who might be more capable to run the country.
After World War I, the entire world was facing economic recession
including Thailand even though she was on the winning side. The national
income was lower than its expenses from 1920 up to the end of the reign of
King Rama VII acceded the throne with an easy heart but he fought economic
recession by cutting down government expenditure in every possible way.
This economic measure was a very audacious move, which certainly
made him unpopular among the military and the bureaucracy and could easily
have caused an upheaval within the country. King Rama VII himself was
extremely upset and had commented thus to military officers on February 5,
1931, concerning the tight money situation, "I strongly feel that I was
born only to chop things down. I have done that from the beginning and
will have to do so again until I do not know what is going to happen next.
It is unfortunate that I have to be doing all of these things often and I
fully realize that people who are the victims of the reduction program
will be in deeper trouble since it is difficult for them to find other
means of livelihood. I, consequently, feel extremely heavyhearted and most
sympathetic for those who have to leave. If I have other ways in which I
could shoulder the burden, I would do every thing for them but as it is I
have no other alternatives. I cannot do anything else but to cut down on
King Rama VII also encouraged and promoted the
cooperative system by promulgating a law governing cooperatives in the
year 1928. He commented, "Farmers who have limited capital but wishing to
pursue the same interest should form a cooperative so that they can
mutually help one another in order to accumulate greater wealth as well as
a better moral strength of the country."
King Rama VII had always
endeavored to make the country more prosperous and promulgated many new
laws accordingly such as the Land Expropriation Act, construction of new
highways, railways and system 1928, control of trading activities that
might have negative repercussion on the security of the country or the
happiness of the people 1928, control of motion picture show 1930, amended
the marriage law 1930, etc. All of these laws were thoroughly scrutinized
and were strictly adhered to by the populace which had done the country a
lot of good.
In the field of culture, King Rama VII laid a very
firm foundation, namely the establishment of a Royal Institute to handle
the Royal City Library's activities as well as to investigate literary
works; to administer museum; to observe and preserve ancient sites and
objects including maintaining the art of handicrafts.
King Rama VII set up an award foundation out of his own purse for literary
works especially on Buddhism which still survives till now. He once said,
"The teaching of Buddhism to children in Siam has nor been satisfactory.
Children must be taught to understand morals when they are very young.
Religious texts for them should be written in a way that they can be
easily understand. To think that one is a philosopher and so can write
well is not always true." King Rama VII, therefore, staged a writing
competition on Buddhism textbooks which would be published and distributed
to children on every Visaka Bucha Day each year.
King Rama VII
also preserved Thai classical music as did his esteemed ancestor King Rama
II. With the coaching of the, then, renewed Thai musician Luang Pradits
Pairau (Sorn Silapabarnleang), Rati Pradap Down (Stars Decorate the
Night), Khmer La-or Ong (Beautiful Khmer) and Klen Kratop Fang (Waves
Touching the Shore). These love songs have won the hearts of young lovers.
Concerning the Constitution, His Majesty King Prajadhipok
commented, "It is a matter of choosing the right time, not too late or not
too soon. This is very difficult. One will have to be very smart as well
"His prediction was extremely precise, as if he knew
what was going to happen on 1932 when the revolution took place. For him
it was too late as well as unlucky. But, nevertheless, the Thai people
understood and believed on what he said, "But if we do something with
honest intentions and to the best of our ability, we should be regarded as
having already tried our best."