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HM King Pinklao
Second King of Siam


The Last Maha Uparaja
HRH Prince Yodyingyos
1838-1885
Siam up until the reign of King Chulalongkorn did not have crown princes as heirs to the throne.  Instead, there was a title of Maha Uparaja, Krom Phra Rajawang Bavorn, of the front palace, who acted as deputy to a king.  This title was held by one of the king's brothers.  The Maha Uparaja was not only a deputy to the king, but was supposedly the heir to the throne as well.  In actual fact, all the Maha Uparajas never lived beyond their brothers/kings, so the eldest son of the King and Queen became the next king.

At one point in the history of Siam, during the reign of King Monkut (Rama IV), there were in fact two Kings of Siam on the throne at the same time.  King Monkut elevated his brother, who was Maha Uparaja, to the rank of Second King with equal rights to that of the king, and who went by the name of "Phra Bat Somdetch Phra Pinklao Chao Yoo Hua," or His Majesty Second King Pinklao of Siam.  The reason was due to astrological reasons.  The people of Siam, then and now, believe that their astrological signs point them in the direction that their lives will take.  For King Mongkut, it was believed that the energy surrounding his brother was so great, that if he did not become of equal ranking to himself, there would be danger to the throne and kingdom.  So, the king, who was well versed in astrology and astronomy, created a second king so that their energies would not clash.  This is an explanation that could be out of reach for some, but it is just a belief of another culture, which makes things a little more interesting.

After the Second King's death, his son, HRH Prince Yodyingyos, Prince Bavornvijaya Jarn, was created the next Krom Phra Rajawang Bavorn, who became the last Maha Uparaja.  After his death in 1885, King Rama V abolished the title of Maha Uparaja and created the title of Crown Prince, as direct heir to the throne.  The first crown prince of Thailand was HRH Prince Maha Vajirunhis, the eldest son of the king whose mother was of royal blood.  After the first crown prince's death during King Rama V's reign, the second crown prince was created in HRH Prince Maha Vajiravudh.  Thus, the first crown prince of Siam was never a king.  Since then, Kings Rama VI, VII, and VIII did not have male heirs, the third crown prince in Thai history has been the present Crown Prince Maha Vijiralongkorn, the only male heir of the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

An oil Painting of the Last Maha Uparaja, by an unknown artist

1896-1897

272.5 x 150 cms.

Vimarnmek Mansion, Dusit Palace

Related Links
Crown Prince Maha Vajirunhis
King Kalakaua of Hawaii

Note: There was a mention that King Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii met with the last Maha Uparaja during his visit to Siam in 1881, and thought that the Maha Uparaja was a well educated person, who spoke English fluently. It was also noted that the Siamese dressed elaborately but without shoes - just bare legs and feet - as seen in this photograph.