Chakrabongse Collection of Thai Royal Letters

Rama V to Chakrabongse
Letter from Rama V to Prince Chakrabongse, dated 25 July 1900. Or.15749/5.10

More than 250 Thai royal letters dating from 1896 to 1915 are held in the Chakrabongse Collection.

About the collection

The letters in the Chakrabongse Collection were written by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and his sons King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) and Prince Chakrabongse between 1896 and 1915. They cover a range of personal and political topics, including descriptions of several European and Asian countries during that period, matters relating to Prince Chakrabongse’s education and the education of other Thai princes in European countries, as well as evidence of the close relationship between King Chulalongkorn and his two sons. The Library received the Chakrabongse Collection as a donation from MR Narisa Chakrabongse, granddaughter of Prince Chakrabongse, in 2001. 

His Royal Highness Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Prince of Bisnulok (1883-1920) was the 40th child of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and 4th child of Her Majesty Queen Sri Bajarindra. During King Chulalongkorn's visit to Russia, Tzar Nicholas II of Russia invited the king to send a son to be educated in Russia, under the care of the Tzar himself. Prince Chakrabongse was chosen and, after spending a short time in England learning Russian, he went to Russia to study military science (1898-1912?), eventually becoming a Colonel in the Hussar Regiment. After his return to Thailand, he established a flying unit in the Thai Army and set up the Aviation Section in the Directorate of Engineering in 1913, and during World War I was the commander in charge of war planes. Today, Prince Chakrabongse is renowned as the ‘Father of the Royal Thai Air Force’.

What is available online?

The Chakrabongse Collection of Thai Royal letters has been fully digitised with the generous support of the Royal Thai Government, in celebration of the occasion of the eightieth birthday anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand on 5 December 2007. Use the shelfmark Or.15749 to search and view the letters on the Digitised Manuscripts website.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

The original letters can be requested for viewing in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room through the Explore Archives and Manuscripts catalogue.