Happy Birthday to King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, who turns 66 today! The only son of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, he succeeded to the Thai Throne in 2016, after his father’s reign of over 70 years. In honour of his birthday, we are taking a look at the Thai Royal Orders-
But first an explanation of Orders in general- Almost every country, monarchy or not, has some form of an honours system that awards chivalry or merit, and is often used in diplomatic exchange of gifts. Each individual order has it’s own history, and in countries with multiple orders, has it’s own rank. The Head of State is usually the sovereign of the order, and has varied authority on deciding their recipients. National Orders are those which must be awarded with consultation from the government, and are official gifts, while the recipients of Dynastic Orders are at the discretion of the Sovereign, and many non-reigning families still award their Dynastic Orders, with no government authority.
Orders of their own countries are awarded to royals at birth, upon reaching the age of majority, upon marriage into the royal family, or after years of dedicated service to the country. Orders of foreign countries are usually awarded during State Visits, and are given according to rank, with the sovereigns receiving the higher order, the heirs the lower order, and the other members of the royal family participating in the visit receiving yet a lower one. However, these rules vary from country to country, and also depend on individual Sovereigns.
Orders are accompanied by a varied amount of insignia, which can include a Sash with a badge worn at the hip, a Star, ornate Collars, Badges to be worn on the shoulders, and smaller Pins, and the awarding of specific items differentiate the different grades in each individual order, and/or depend on the orders themselves. The wearing of the insignia depends on the occasion. The ornate collars of an Order are only worn very rarely at White Tie events or on Uniforms. The Sash and Star are more common and seen at White Tie State Banquets. The smaller badges may be worn when you are wearing the insignia of other orders, or at a Black Tie occasion where Orders are worn. The small pins are worn at formal occasions in the daytime, when you want to honour the occasion without making it too formal. Now that we have an explanation, lets learn about the Thai Royal Orders:
Established by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1962, the Most Auspicious Order of the Rajamitrabhorn (เครื่องราชอิสริยาภรณ์อันเป็นมงคลยิ่งราชมิตราภรณ์) is the highest Order in the Kingdom of Thailand. The insignia includes a Collar with the diamond pendant, with the Chakra crossed over the Trident, at the centre, a small pendant, attached onto the yellow sash, with white and blue trims, to wear over the right shoulder to the left hip, and a star with the figure of Narayana on the Garuda, to wear on the left breast. The Order has been awarded to Foreign Sovereigns, but is not usually worn by the King.
The Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri (เครื่องขัตติยราชอิสริยาภรณ์อันมีเกียรติคุณรุ่งเรืองยิ่งมหาจักรีบรมราชวงศ์) was established by King Rama V in 1882 to commemorate the Bangkok Centennial, and is awarded to members of the Royal Family and some Foreign Consorts. The insignia includes a Pendant of Chakri, suspended from collar, a Pendant of Chula Chakri, attached onto the yellow sash, to wear over the left shoulder to the right hip, and a Star of Chakri, to wear on the left breast. The Order is often seen on members of the Royal Family, who usually wear it on Uniform.
The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao (เครื่องราชอิสริยาภรณ์จุลจอมเกล้า) was created by King Rama V in 1873 to commemorate the 90th Jubilee of the Chakri Dynasty. The Insignia consists of a Pendant, Star, a Pink Sash which commemorates the Tuesday Birthday Colour of King Rama V, and a Collar, consisting of sixteen Royal Ciphers of King Rama V in pink enamel and seventeen gold rosettes fastened to each other by chain links. The centre has an oval medallion with Airavata elephants, enamelled in white, and a gold crown with a starburst at the top. Flanking the medallion on either side are two gold lion supporters, carrying Royal Parasols. The Order is worn by Members of the Royal Family and is awarded to some Royal Consorts and Heirs.
Created by King Rama IV in 1851, the Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems (เครื่องราชอิสริยาภรณ์อันเป็นโบราณมงคลนพรัตนราชวราภรณ์) is awarded to members of the royal family and high-ranking officials, and is only granted to Thai citizens. The insignis includes a Pendant of the Nine Gems, on a yellow sash with red, blue, and green trim, worn over the right shoulder to the left hip (for men). For women, the Pendant of the Nine Gems is attached to a silk ribbon, worn on the front left shoulder, a Gold Ring of the Nine Gems, for men, to wear on the right index finger, and the Star of the Nine Gems, to wear on the left breast, which feature a Diamond—Power, wealth, success over enemies, Ruby—Success and longevity, Emerald—Strength and security, Yellow Sapphire—Charm and love, Garnet—Health and longevity, Blue Sapphire—Love and wealth, Pearl/Moonstone—Purity, happiness, and success over enemies, Zircon/Topaz—Wealth and success in legal affairs, and a Cat’s Eye—Protection by spirits, and from fire