King Prajadhipok Museum

Museum in Banglamphu

This museum assembles old photos and memorabilia to illustrate the rather dramatic life of Rama VII (King Prajadhipok; r 1925–35), Thailand's last absolute monarch. It occupies a grand neocolonial-style building constructed on the orders of Rama V for his favourite firm of Bond St merchants – the only foreign business allowed on the royal road linking Bangkok’s two palace districts.

The exhibitions reveal that Prajadhipok did not expect to become king, but once on the throne showed considerable diplomacy in dealing with what was, in effect, a revolution fomented by a new intellectual class of Thais. The 1st floor deals with the life of Queen Rambhai Barni, while the upper two floors cover the king’s own life, revealing, for example, that the army-officer-turned-king spent many of his formative years in Europe where he became fond of British democracy. (Ironically, those plotting his downfall had themselves learned of democracy during years of European education.) A coup, carried out while the king and queen were playing golf, ended Thailand’s absolute monarchy in 1932. Prajadhipok’s reign eventually ended when he abdicated while in England in 1935; he died there in 1941.