Prince Bhikkhu Mongkut arrived at the temple in 1836 (ordination name: Vajirañāṇo) and became the first abbot. He later acceeded to the throne of Siam as King Rama IV. His great grandson, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ordained at the Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew) and resided here for a short period after he became King. Bhumibol's mentor, Somdet Phra Yanasangworn, eventually became abbot of the temple, and later, the Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism. Exiled dictator Thanom Kittikachorn returned to Thailand as a novice monk to join Wat Bowonniwet leading to large public demonstrations and a bloody crackdown in October 1976. King Bhumibol Adulyadej's son, Prince Vajiralongkorn was ordained and spent a short period at this temple, as well as several of the Prince's own sons.
The golden chedi at the wat's shrine carries the relics and ashes of Thai royalty. The two viharas are closed to public. The T-shaped bot holds a magnificent Sukothai period Buddha, cast in 1257 A.D. to celebrate freedeom from Khymers.  The imaginary 3-dimensional murals on the bot's interior walls were traditionally light and limited in their subject matter and style. Monk artist Khrua In Khong introduced western style in the murals depicting Buddhist topics.