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For the ship HTMS Pin Klao, see USS Hemminger (DE-746); for the bridge, see Phra Pin-klao Bridge

Vice King of Siam
Pinklao in western style Naval Uniform
Vice King of Siam
Tenure 25 May 1851- 7 January 1866
Appointed Mongkut (Rama IV)
Predecessor Maha Sakdi Polsep
Successor Vichaichan
Born (1808-09-04)4 September 1808
Bangkok, Siam
Died 7 January 1866(1866-01-07) (aged 57)
Bangkok, Siam
Spouse Chao Chom Manda Klib[1]
Issue 58 sons and daughters with various consorts
House Chakri Dynasty
Father Buddha Loetla Nabhalai (Rama II)
Mother Sri Suriyendra

Phrabat Somdet Phra Pinklao Chaoyuhua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปิ่นเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) (September 4, 1808 – January 7, 1866) was the Vice King of Siam. He was the younger brother of King Mongkut (Rama IV) who crowned him as a monarch with equal honor to himself.

Early life[edit]

Prince Chutamani was born on September 4, 1808 as a son of Prince Isarasundhorn and Princess Bunrod at the Old Thonburi Palace. Prince Chutamani also had an elder brother - Prince Mongkut - who was seven years older. In 1809, Prince Isarasundhorn was crowned as Buddha Loetla Nabhalai and his mother became Queen Sri Suriyendra. They all moved to the Grand Palace.

The government of Buddha Loetla Nabhalai, however, was dominated by Kromma Meun Jessadabodindra - Buddha Loetla Nabhalai's son with Concubine Riam. In 1824, Prince Mongkut became a monk according to Siamese traditions. However, Buddha Loetla Nabhalai fell ill and died in the same year. The nobility, led by Chao Phraya Abhay Pudhorn the Samuha Nayok and Tish Bunnag the minister of Kromma Tha supported Prince Jessadabodindra for the throne as he was proved to be very competent to rule. Therefore, Jessadabodindra was crowned, and later became known as King Nangklao (Rama III).

Prince Mongkut then stayed in his monkhood to avoid political intrigues. Prince Chutamani, however, entered the government under Nangklao and was awarded the title Kromma Khun Isaret-rangsant. Kromma Khun Isaret moved to the Old Palace in Thonburi, where he lived with his mother Queen Sri Suriyendra until her death in 1836.

The young prince was, as was his elder brother, very friendly disposed towards foreigners. In 1833 at age 25 and known to diplomatist Edmund Roberts as Chow-Phoi-Noi or Mom-fa-Noi, the prince secretly visited the mission house during Roberts' negotiations for America's first treaty with Siam; the prince was highly pleased and gratified with a night-time visit to the man-of-war Peacock, during which the men mustered to quarters for naval exercises. Roberts says the prince speaks and writes the English language with considerable fluency, and his pronunciation is very correct[2] – "Wow," his usual manner of expressing surprise.[3]

Reign with Mongkut[edit]

Nangklao died in 1851. Kromma Khun Isaret was at the time the heir presumptive to the throne, but the return and claim of his brother Prince Mongkut was stronger. Mongkut was then crowned on May 25, 1851 with the support of the nobility. Concurrently Prince Isaret was crowned as the Vice King Pinklao with equal honor to Mongkut. In practice, Pinklao held the title of Front Palace. The popular legend holds that Mongkut's own astrological calculations stated that his brother Prince Isaret also holds the fate to become a king. As a result he gave Pinklao the same styles and title normally reserved for a King such as Phrabat Somdet and Chao Yu Hua: Phrabat Somdet Phra Pinklao Chao Yu Hua. David Wyatt considers his appointment a way of Mongkut's to prevent Pinklao from challenging his own position.[4] Nevertheless, the relationship between the brothers remained peaceful and good throughout Mongkut's reign.

The government under Mongkut was however, in the strong hands of Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Prayurawongse and Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Pichaiyat, the former as Chief Minister of Siam. Interference from both King and Vice King was therefore minimal. Expanding his interests to foreign affairs Pinklao, who was known for his fluency in the English language was able to respond to the letters of John Bowring. In the letters, he referred himself as the Second king and his brother as the First king. As a result, Pinklao was able to play a great role in the negotiation of the Bowring Treaty of 1855, as well as a role in the subsequent negotiation of the Harris Treaty of 1856 that updated the Roberts treaty of 1833.

As the second monarch and Front Palace, Pinklao maintained his own private army, and a navy of several modern ships. It was during this time that the power of the Front Palace greatly expanded. Apart from state affairs, Pinklao was interested in both western and Lao culture, speaking English, drilling his troops in European fashion, singing, dancing, and playing the khene to mor lam music.

Pinklao died on January 7, 1866, predeceasing his brother by two years. His nephew the 15-year-old Chulalongkorn (son of Mongkut), succeeded to the throne in 1868 and Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriyawongse (the Regent) arranged the title of Front Palace to be succeeded by Pinklao's son with Princess Aim, Prince Yingyot later Vichaichan.

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 1808-1832: His Royal Highness Prince Chutamani (เจ้าฟ้าจุฑามณี)
  • 1832-1851: His Royal Highness the Prince Brother Isaret-rangsant (สมเด็จพระเจ้าน้องยาเธอ กรมขุนอิศเรศรังสรรค์)
  • 1851-1866: His Majesty King Pinklao (พระบาทสมเด็จพระปิ่นเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว)


  1. ^ วิบูล วิจิตรวาทการ. สตรีสยามในอดีต. พิมพ์ครั้งที่ 3. กรุงเทพฯ:เดือนตุลา. 2542, p. 245
  2. ^ Roberts, Edmund (Digitized October 12, 2007) [First published in 1837]. "Chapter XIX —Government of Siam.". Embassy to the Eastern courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat : in the U. S. sloop-of-war Peacock ... during the years 1832-3-4. Harper & brothers. pp. 300–1. OCLC 12212199. Retrieved April 25, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Ruschenberger, William Samuel Waithman (Scandate 20070724) [First published in 1837]. A Voyage Round the World: Including an Embassy to Muscat and Siam in 1835, 1836 and 1837. Harper & brothers. p. 295. OCLC 12492287. Retrieved 25 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Wyatt, David. Thailand: A Short History. Yale University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-300-03582-9. (p. 167)

External links[edit]

Chakri Dynasty
Born: 4 September 1808 Died: 7 January 1866
Preceded by
Maha Sakdi Polsep
Front Palace
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by
New creation
Commander of the Front Palace Navy
Succeeded by