Thai royal and noble titles

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"Chao Fa" redirects here. For the title used by some rulers of the Shan states, see Saopha.

Thai royal and noble titles are the royal and noble styles indicating relationship to the king which were introduced by King Trailokanat (reigned 1448–1488). The system is rooted in the Thai language equivalent of feudalism, Sakdina (ศักดินา: "power over fields"). It is somewhat similar to peerage, but more complicated and obscure even to most Thais. A title of honor may not be confined to the beginning or the end of the name, but may be split across the name. Those with titles ceased to be known by personal names, and were referred to by the awarded (or similar) title.[1] The King may bestow any title on anyone, although such promotion is personal and the person's children will not normally benefit from it.

The king[edit]

There are two styles which can be used for a king in ordinary speech, depending on whether he has been crowned:

  • Crowned kings: Phra Bat Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว; English: His Majesty the King) is the style used in ordinary speech when referring to the kings of Thailand after their coronation. This style may be used in two ways:
    • Preceding the name of the king; for example, Phra Bat Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Phumiphon Adunyadet (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวภูมิพลอดุลยเดช; His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej)
    • More formally it can be split across the name, possibly with the omission (or modification) of the words "Phra Chao Yu Hua"; for example, Phra Bat Somdet Phra Paramintara Maha Phumiphon Adunyadet (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดช) and Phra Bat Somdet Phra Paramindara Maha Prajadhipok Phra Pokklao Chao Yu Hua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาประชาธิปกฯ พระปกเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว).
  • Uncrowned kings: Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua (Thai: สมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว), normally preceding the king's name, is restricted to a king who has not yet been crowned. When crowned, he assumes the title of Phra Bat Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua.

Consorts[edit]

Traditionally, titles of royal wives depended on their birth titles and royal favour; only princesses of high birth (Chao Fa, Phra Ong Chao and Mom Chao Ying) assuming titles higher than Chao Chom.[citation needed] There were no clear rules about the hierarchy of titles above Chao Chom until the time of King Mongkut, and titles changed over successive reigns. The rule about commoners also seems to be evolving, and it appears that there are no more restrictions on a commoner from becoming queen. Most of the titles below are from King Vajiravudh's 1924 enactment of the Succession Law.

Consorts
Rank Title Style Remarks
Somdet Phra Akkhara Mahesi
สมเด็จพระอัครมเหสี
(Supreme Royal Consort)
Somdet Phra Boromma Rajininat
สมเด็จพระบรมราชินีนาถ
(Queen Regent)
Somdet Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Boromma Rajini Nat
Her Majesty, the Queen
Nat (นาถ) means "shelter".
Somdet Phra Boromma Rajini
สมเด็จพระบรมราชินี
Somdet Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Boromma Rajini
Her Majesty, the Queen
Somdet Phra Rajini
สมเด็จพระราชินี
Somdet Phra Rajini + Name Temporary title before coronation
Phra Mahesi
พระมเหสี
(Royal Consort)
Somdet Phra Boromma Rajadevi
สมเด็จพระบรมราชเทวี
Somdet Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Boromma Rajadevi
Her Majesty, the Queen
Somdet Phra Akkhara Rajadevi
สมเด็จพระอัครราชเทวี
Somdet Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Akkhara Rajadevi
Her Majesty, the Queen
Phra Akkhara Rajadevi
พระอัครราชเทวี
Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Akkhara Rajadevi
Her Royal Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Vara Rajadevi
พระวรราชเทวี
Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Vara Rajadevi
Her Royal Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Rajadevi
พระราชเทวี
Phra Nang Chao + Name + Phra Rajadevi
Her Royal Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Nang Thoe
พระนางเธอ
Phra Nang Thoe + Name
Her Royal Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Akkhara Chaya Thoe
พระอรรคชายาเธอ
Phra Akkhara Chaya Thoe + Name
Her Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Raja Chaya Thoe
พระราชชายาเธอ
Phra Raja Chaya Thoe + Name
Her Highness, Princess, Royal Consort
Phra Sanom
พระสนม
Royal Concubine
Chao Khun Chom Manda
เจ้าคุณจอมมารดา
Supreme Royal Concubine
Chao Khun Chom Manda + Name Appointed to
* Foreign princess
* Mom Chao (Her Serene Highness, Princess)
* Mom Rajawongse
* Mom Laung
* Commoners
During pregnancy, known as
Chao Chom Manda. Manda means "mother".
Phra was used during Rama VI's reign.
Chao Chom Manda
เจ้าจอมมารดา
Chao Chom Manda + Name
Chom Manda
จอมมารดา
Chom Manda + Name
Chao Chom
เจ้าจอม
Chao Chom + Name
Phra
พระ
Phra + Name

Princes and princesses[edit]

Holders of these titles are still considered royal, since they are (at most) two generations removed from a king. Nai Luang (ในหลวง) is an epithet for a king.[2] Children of a king are called Luk Luang (ลูก หลวง "royal children"), and grandchildren of a king are called Laan Luang (หลาน หลวง "royal grandchildren"). In English, they are normally called "prince" or "princess". Special forms are used when one wishes to address them, although the language is less elaborate than when speaking to the king or the queen. A male Luk Luang who does not accede to the throne would assume a new royal surname, normally reflecting his birth name (as opposed to an honorific given later). The surname can be used by his wife if she is a commoner by birth, possibly with Na Ayudhya added if she has no noble title. It is otherwise not normally used until his children (or grandchildren) first hold the title of Mom Chao, when the surname will first appear in their names.

Sovereign's children[edit]

Further information: Saopha
Order of precedence of a sovereign's children
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Somdet Chao Fa Somdet Phra Anujadhiraj His Royal Highness, Prince Elevated to "Heir Apparent" by Rama VI
Higher than the other royal family; for example,
Somdet Chao Fa
Special Class
His Royal Highness, Prince Elevated to "Special Class" by Rama VII and Bhanurangsi Savangvongse, Prince Banubandhu Vongsevoradej
Somdet Phra Chao Borommawong Thoe
Chao Fa
First Class
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For a sovereign's children with:
  1. The Queen
  2. Royal consorts who are a sovereign's daughter
Somdet Phra Chao Borommawong Thoe
Chao Fa
Second Class
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For a sovereign's children with:
  1. Royal consorts
  2. A foreign princess
Phra Ong Chao
First Class
Phra Chao Baromwongse Thoe
Phra Ong Chao
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For a sovereign's children with:
  1. HSH Princess
  2. A royal concubine

Maha Uparaj's children[edit]

Order of precedence of Maha Uparaj's children
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Special Class Phra Chao Rajvorawongse Ther Chao Fa
(พระเจ้าราชวรวงศ์เธอ เจ้าฟ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For Maha Uparaj's children with a royal consort who is a princess
Phra Ong Chao Phra Chao Rajvorawongse Ther
Phra Ong Chao

(พระเจ้าราชวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of Maha Uparaj
  1. Maha Sura Singhanat
  2. Maha Senanurak
  3. Maha Sakdi Balasebya
  4. Pinklao
Phra Rajvorawongse Ther
Phra Ong Chao

(พระราชวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of Wichaichan

Sovereign's grandchildren[edit]

Order of precedence of sovereign's grandchildren
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Special Class Phra Chao Lanh Ther Chao Fa
(พระเจ้าหลานเธอ เจ้าฟ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of the sovereign's daughters or the sovereign's sisters with a prince. They are the third class of Chao Fa.
Phra Ong Chao Phra Chao Lanh Ther Phra Ong Chao
(พระเจ้าหลานเธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of the sovereign's sons (First Class) with a princess or royal consort.

After their grandfather's reign, their title changes to Phra Chao Voravongse Ther Phra Ong Chao (พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้า)

Phra Lanh Ther Phra Ong Chao
(พระหลานเธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of:
  1. The sovereign's sons (First Class) with a commoner elevated by the king
  2. The sovereign's sons (Second Class) with a princess

After their grandfather's reign, their title changes to Phra Voravongse Ther Phra Ong Chao (พระวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้า)

Phra Sambandhawongse Ther
Phra Ong Chao

(พระสัมพันธเธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of Prince Matayabitaksa, maternal grandfather of Rama V
Mom Chao Mom Chao
(หม่อมเจ้า)
His Serene Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of the sovereign's sons with a commoner

Sovereign's nephew or niece[edit]

Order of precedence of sovereign's nephew or niece
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Chao Fa Phra Sambhandhawongse Ther
Chao Fa

(พระสัมพันธวงศ์เธอ เจ้าฟ้า)
His Royal Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of Rama I's eldest sisters; Princess Debsudavadi and Princess Sri Sudaraksha
Phra Ong Chao Phra Prabhandhawongse Ther
Phra Ong Chao

(พระประพันธวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้า)
His Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of deputy vice-king Anuraksha Deveshra with a royal consort
Mom Chao Mom Chao
(หม่อมเจ้า)
His Serene Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of:
  1. Sons and daughters of Princess Debsudavadi and Princess Sri Sudaraksha's son
  2. Sons and daughters of deputy vice-king Anuraksha Deveshra with a concubine

Maha Uparaj's grandchildren[edit]

Order of precedence of Maha Uparaj's grandchildren
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Mom Chao Mom Chao
(หม่อมเจ้า)
His Serene Highness, Prince (Princess) For the sovereign's grandchildren

Sovereign's great-grandchildren[edit]

Order of precedence of sovereign's great-grandchildren
Rank Title Remarks
Thai English
Mom Chao Mom Chao
(หม่อมเจ้า)
His Serene Highness, Prince (Princess) For children of the sovereign's grandchildren in the class of Phra Chao Lanh Thor Phra Ong Chao (HRH, Prince)
Mom Rajawongse Mom Rajawongse
(หม่อมราชวงศ์)
Mom Rajawongse For children of the sovereign's grandchildren in the class of Phra Lanh Thor Phra Ong Chao (HH Prince) and Mom Chao (HSH Prince). They are not members of the royal family.

Royal descendants[edit]

More distant royal progeny, starting from the children of male Mom Chao, are considered commoners. However, these commoners have titles indicating that their ancestry can be traced back to a king.

Mom Rajawongse[edit]

Mom Rajawongse (หม่อมราชวงศ์, rtgsMom Ratchawong; abbreviated in Thai as ม.ร.ว. and in English as M. R. and translated as "The Honourable") is the title assumed by children of male Mom Chao. Informally, they may be called Khun Chai (male) or Khun Ying (female) (คุณชาย.../คุณหญิง...). Holders of this title are occasionally erroneously referred to as princes or princesses in older English documents; it is now more common to use the correct title, "Mom Rajawongse".

Mom Luang[edit]

Mom Luang (หม่อมหลวง, abbreviated in Thai ม.ล. and sometimes in English as M. L. and translated as "The Honourable") are the last royal descendants retaining a title. Mom Luang titles are conferred on children of male Mom Rajawongse. Colloquially (although incorrectly), they are sometimes addressed as "Mom"; the correct informal address is "Khun" (คุณ).

Na Ayudhya[edit]

In the Family Name Act, B. E. 2465, Rama VI ordered that royal descendants who do not hold any title should append "Na Ayudhya" (ณ อยุธยา) to their surname to signify they are descended from a royal bloodline.

Wife of prince[edit]

Wives of princes have titles, depending on the titles on both sides.[citation needed]

Phra Vorachaya[edit]

Phra Vorachaya (พระวรชายา) is a title of the royal consort of the Crown Prince. She is elevated to Phra Chao Vorawongse Ther Phra Ong Chao.

Phra Chaya[edit]

Phra Chaya (พระชายา) is a princess, Chao Fa (HRH Princess) or Phra Ong Chao (HRH Princess) who is married to prince, at every level. She retains her own title. When referring to her as a wife of the prince, she may be called "Phra Chaya Nai (husband's name)".

Chaya[edit]

Chaya (ชายา) is a princess or Mom Chao (HSH Princess) who is married to prince, at every level. Again, she would retain her own title. When referring to her as a wife of the prince, she may be called "Chaya Nai (husband's name)".

Mom[edit]

Mom (หม่อม), in this context, is a commoner married to a prince. She uses this title as a prefix of her name, adding na Ayudhya to her new surname; for example, Mom Srirasmi Mahidol na Ayudhya (a wife of Chao Fa Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose surname is Mahidol). If she has her own title (Mom Rajawongse or Mom Luang), she retains it.

Married princesses[edit]

The son of a holder of the following titles generally inherits a title one step below; a female Mom Rajawongse married to a commoner would produce a child with no title. According to the Royal Marriages Act, B. E. 2475, a princess wishing to marry to a commoner must request royal permission and abandon her royal title. For example, if princess Chao Fa, HRH Princess of Thailand, wished to marry a Mom Rajawongse commoner she would lose her royal title (Chao Fa, HRH Princess of Thailand) but retain royal style as follows:

  • Chao Fa, HRH Princess of Thailand: Tunkramom Ying (daughter of the sovereign with the queen)
  • Chao Fa, HRH Princess of Thailand: Somdet Ying (daughter of the sovereign with the royal consort)
  • Phra Ong Chao, HRH Princess of Thailand: Sadet Phra Ong Ying (daughter of the sovereign with the concubine)
  • Phra Ong Chao, HRH Princess of Thailand: Phra Ong Ying (daughter of the son of the sovereign with the queen and his royal consort)
  • Phra Ong Chao, HH Princess of Thailand: Than Phra Ong Ying (daughter of the son of the sovereign who was elevated from Mom Chao to Phra Ong Chao)
  • Mom Chao, HSH Princess of Thailand: Than Ying (daughter of the son of the sovereign and his consort, or great-granddaughter of the sovereign)

However, Chao Fa Chulabhonwalailak received permission from the king to keep her title when she married commoner Weerayut Disayasirin.

Nobility[edit]

The nobility of Siamese feudalism was enacted by Trailokkanat, king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, in 1454. The Act of Sakdina of Civil, Military and Colony classified citizens by role and responsibilities: royal family, nobility, bhikkhus, commoners and slaves.

The nobility is part of the Thai honour system for rewarding bravery, achievement, or service to the monarch. The sovereign confers peerages, including titles of nobility and orders of chivalry. Thai peerage is an honour under the crown, and a holder can be withdrawn or elevated to higher rank. The peerage consists of a prefix signifying the rank (บรรดาศักดิ์Bandasakdi) and an honorific name (ราชทินนามRaja Dinnanam). Before the Siamese revolution of 1932, the peerage had four groups: royal, civil and military, courtiers and clergy.

Royal peerage[edit]

Enacted by King Narayana the Great, the peer has Krom for managing their household and staffs. The ranks of royal peerage are:

The sovereign may grant titles to other royal-family members:

  1. Somdet Phra Prathom Borom Ratchachonok: HRH Prince Father of Rama I
  2. Somdet Phra Rupsirisobakya Mahanaknari: HRH Princess Rupsirisobakya Mahanaknari, Mother of Queen Amarindra
  3. Somdet Phra Piyamavadi Sri Bajarindra Mata: HRH Princess Piyamavadi Sri Bajarindra Mata, Mother of Queen Saovabha Bongsri
  4. Somdet Phra Sri Savarindira Barom Raja Devi: HM Queen Sri Savarindira, Queen Grandmother of Rama VI and Rama VII
  5. Somdet Phra Mahitaladhibes Adulyadejvikrom Phra Borom Ratchachonok: HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince Father of Rama VIII and Rama IX
  6. Somdet Phra Debaratanarajasuda Chao Fa Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Rathasimagunakornpiyajat Sayamboromrajakumari: HRH Princess Sirindhorn, the Princess Royal

Civil and military peerage[edit]

Men[edit]

These titles were given only to men and were not inheritable, similar to a life peerage. European equivalents were also used on diplomatic missions.[1] Although all are obsolete, Phan and Nai have modern meanings. Civil and military peerage had the following order of precedence:

  • Somdet Chao Phraya: Awarded under extraordinary circumstances only to those with great achievements, Somdet Chao Phraya is equivalent to royal peerage. Four people in Siamese history have received this title.
  1. Somdet Chao Phraya Maha Kshatriyas Suek: Granted by King Taksin of Thonburi
  2. Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Bijaya Yati: Granted by Rama IV
  3. Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Prayurawongse: Also granted by Rama IV
  4. Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriyawongse: Granted by Rama V
  • Chao Phraya (เจ้าพระยา): Conferred on the most-senior commissioned officer by a royal letter of appointment. Holders are informally addressed and referred to as "Chao Khun" (เจ้าคุณ). I has three classes:
  1. Gold Class (engraved title on gold leaf): For ministers who are Mom Rajawongse or Mom Luang; also awarded to commoners.
  2. Silver Class (engraved title on silver leaf): For ministers who are commoners and other honorees
  3. Regular Class
  • Phraya (พระยา): Conferred on commissioned officers who were permanent secretary of a ministry, director-general, governor of an important city, commander-in-chief or chancellor of a royal office (Krom Phraya). Holders are informally addressed and referred to as "Chao Khun" (เจ้าคุณ).
  • Phra (พระ): Conferred on commissioned officers who were Mom Rajawongse and the Chancellor of the Royal Office (Kromma Phra)
  • Luang (หลวง): Conferred on junior-level commissioned officers and the Chancellor of the Royal Office
  • Khun (ขุน): Conferred on senior non-commissioned officers and the Chancellor of the Royal Office
  • Muen (หมื่น): Conferred on non-commissioned officers and the Chancellor of the Royal Office
  • Phan (พัน ): The lowest rank, conferred on non-commissioned officers

Women[edit]

These titles were given only to women, and were not inheritable. They were ordered as follows:

  • Than Phu Ying (ท่านผู้หญิง, High Lady) conferred on wives of Somdet Chao Phraya and Chao Phraya. Their title was Than Phu Ying plus her husband's honorific; for example, Than Phu Ying Yommaraj (Wife of Chao Phraya Yommaraj). When her husband died, the title changed to Than Phu Ying + name + husband's honorific; for example, Than Phu Ying Talab Yommaraj (Dowager of Chao Phraya Yommaraj; obsolete). Still conferred on married women, who are Dame Grand Commander of the Order of Chula Chom Klao.
  • Khun Ying (คุณหญิง, Lady) was conferred on wives of Phraya. The title was Khun Ying + husband's honorific; for example, Khun Ying Anuman Rajadhon (Wife of Phraya Anuman Rajadhon). When her husband died, her title changed to Khun Ying + name + husband's honorific; for example, Khun Ying Lamai Anuman Rajadhon (Dowager of Phraya Anuman Rajadhon). Still conferred on married women who are Commander,

Companion or Member of the Order of Chula Chom Klao. If a woman is Mom Rajawongse or Mom Luang, she does not use Khun Ying.

  • Khun (คุณ) conferred on unmarried woman appointed to Commander, Companion and Member of Order of Chula Chom Klao.
  • Than Ying (ท่านหญิง) is an informal title for Nang that used to be Mom Chao, but married to a lower status man. They can be promoted to higher titles by receiving higher class of the Order of Chula Chom Klao.
  • Nang (นาง) was conferred on wives of nobility below Phra.

Peerage of Courtier[edit]

Men[edit]

  • Chao Muen (เจ้าหมื่น): Was conferred on a Lord Steward; above Phra and below Phraya.
  • Chamuen (จมื่น): Was conferred on the Chief-Commander of Royal Guard; above Phra and below Phraya.
  • Thao: Was conferred on a Lord Steward; above Luang and below Phra. (Obsolete)
  • Luang Mae Chao (จ่า): Was conferred on Senior Pages; equivalent to Luang.
  • Nai Hum Phrae (นาย หุ้มแพร): Was conferred on Senior Pages; equivalent to Khun.
  • Nai Rong Hum Phrae (นายรอง หุ้มแพร): Was conferred on Junior Pages; equivalent to Muen.

Women[edit]

Chao Khun (เจ้าคุณ), Thao (ท้าว), Luang Mae Chao (หลวงแม่เจ้า), and Cha (จ่า) are all obsolete.

Khun (courtesy title)[edit]

Khun (คุณ), a courtesy title pronounced with a middle tone, should not be confused with the similarly-spelled tree or the feudal title of Khun (ขุน, pronounced in a rising tone). The courtesy title is used for children born to a noble mother who gave up her title to marry a man of lesser rank; a notable example is Khun Poom Jensen. Today, this word is used informally to courteously address nearly anyone except those who hold a title of Mom Rajawongse or higher. It is T-V distinct from thoe (เธอ).[3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, Edmund (12 October 2007) [First published in 1837]. "Chapter XIX―titles of the king". 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. 301–303. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "คนไทยรักนายหลวง" [Thai people love the King]. Community page. Google+. 31 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-31. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Thai words for 'you'". Retrieved 22 Apr 2010. 

References[edit]

  • Jones Robert B., 1971, Thai Titles and Ranks, Including a Translation of Royal Lineage in Siam by King Chulalongkorn, Data Paper No. 81. Ithaca: Southeast Asia Program, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University
  • Finestone Jeffrey, 1989, The Royal Family of Thailand: The Descendants of King Chulalongkorn
  • Rabibhadana M.R. Akin, 1996, The Organization of Thai Society in the Early Bangkok Period 1782 – 1873
  • Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand, 2007, The King of Thailand in World Focus
  • "RID 1999" (Online). The Royal Institute of Thailand. Select initial letter then enter full spelling 

External links[edit]