Vajiralongkorn: Possessor of the thunderbolt

Under the headline “Prince named”, The Sydney Morning Herald reported in September 1952 that Thailand’s ”baby crown prince” had been named.  The full report reads:

BANGKOK, September 7 (A.A.P.-Reuter). — Bangkok Radio announced yesterday that Siam’s baby crown prince, born on July 28, had been named Prince Vajiralongkorn (Possessor of the Thunderbolt).

The name was composed by the Lord High Patriarch of the Buddhist Church at the King’s request and after due consultation of the baby’s horosope.

This article from The Mercury (published in Tasmania, Australia) at the same time offers an etymological breakdown.  In “Thunderbolt title for baby crown prince” it explains that:

Prince Vajiralongkorn [is] a name coined by the combination of the words vajira, which means thunderbolt and alongkorn (meaning ornament), but the combined term means something like “the possessor of a thunderbolt”.

These days nobody much refers to the translation or etymology of the Crown Prince’s name. I think this is a pity because it has a certain potency, no doubt about it.  If you are intrigued to find out more then this site and this one are good places to start. 

In related news I find it somewhat remarkable that when I search Google the first Thai language article about the Crown Prince that comes up is one by Giles Ji Unpakorn about why he should not be king. Based on my understanding of Google’s algorithms this suggests that many highly ranked websites point their readers towards that article. For those with an historical bent, it is an article I referred to way back in January 2010; the English and French versions are here.

I doubt that those who gave the baby prince his auspicious name almost 60 years ago could have ever imagined the changes to Thailand and the world that have followed.

About Nicholas Farrelly