back to index

Related Links

Father: HM King Rama IV
Brother: HM King Rama V
Son: Prince Birabongse Bhanudej
Son-in-Law: Prince Yugala Dighambara


His Royal Highness Prince Bhanurangsri Savangwongse, was the 45th child of His Majesty King Rama IV and 4th child of Her Majesty Queen Dhepsirindra, and was the younger and favourite brother of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

Prince Bhanurangsri was born on 11 January 1859.  He was created Prince Bhanubandhuwongse Voradej by King Rama V in 1881. He was a General in the Royal House Guards of King Rama V, as well as being the Ministers of War and Defence during different periods of his life. He was appointed Special Envoy for the King in establishing diplomatic relations with Japan and Europe. In the reign of King Rama VII, his nephew, he was appointed Special Status Minister in 1925.

The prince had 16 children from 5 wives. One famous son was His Highness Prince Birabongse Bhanudej, or Prince Bira, the famous race-car driver. Another respected child was Her Royal Highness Princess Chalermkhetra Mangala, principal wife of His Royal Highness Prince Yugala Dighambara, Prince of Lopburi. The Yugala Family is probably the most senior and well-connected Royal House in Thailand at present.

The prince was quite a handful as he was the favourite brother of King Rama V. It was said that he ran away with a daughter of the powerful Bunnag Clan who once held the Regency of Siam before King Rama V came of age to rule. The King had to diplomatically convince her father that his brother was in fact a well behaved young man. She later became a consort and bore him 3 children. Another incident was that he drank a little too much during the King's reception ceremony for a foreign guest. The King thought that his brother would present an undistinguished image, thus sent him home to take a rest before the nights function. He went home as he was told, but came back to Sanam Luang, or the Royal Lawn, which was the place of the ceremony, dressed in informal clothing. The King had to then send Crown Prince Maha Vajiravudh (later Rama VI), a favourite nephew to coax the prince to go back home. Prince Bhanurangsri said that he was a citizen of Siam, and came out to witness the ceremony as any good citizen would, albeit a little happier than most. He nevertheless went back home having been asked by his favourite nephew. These are just anecdotes to accompany the history. Prince Bhanurangsri served the country well under 3 Kings, and did his duties to the fullest.

The only portrait of a non-king hanging in the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall is of the prince, and the one that caught my eyes the most. I have titled the page "Portrait of a Prince." He was also the owner of Burapa Bhiromya Palace, a very beautiful building that has since been torn down and replaced by a shopping district known today as Wang Burapa.

Prince Bhanurangsri died on 13 June 1928 at the age of 69, never having to witness the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. His descendents use the surname of Bhanubandhu.


Burapa Bhiromya Palace

Burapa Bhiromya Palace

The Prince's principle residence in Bangkok was the Burapa Bhiromya Palace, a gift from his brother King Rama V. The building process started in 1876, and the prince moved in in 1881. After the prince's death, his children saw different views and finally decided to sell it in 1952 to a property developer. The palace was sadly demolished in 1954, to make way for a large shopping complex of modern buildings. The area is now known as Wang Burapa, but there are no indications that a beautiful palace once stood there.