Who's Who in the Thai Royal Family
The recent passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has sparked a barrage of international media coverage. Reports refer to various members of the Thai royal family who survive him. Here's a brief guide to the living senior members in good standing of the House of Chakri, ie. the late King's spouse, children, and grandchildren, in the order of precedence that existed at the time of the King's death:
1. HM Queen Sirikit (b. 1932). Married to the late King in 1950 and the mother of all his children. First lady of the land for her entire adult life. Now lives in almost total retirement. Also a paternal first cousin once removed of the late King.
2. HRH the Crown Prince (b. 1952). Personal name: Vajiralongkorn. Second child and only son of the late King and the above. Educated at elite schools in Thailand, Australia, and the UK. Graduate of the Royal Military College of Australia; also holds a master's degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University. Career airforce pilot, now retired. Married 3 times to date. Has 3 children in good dynastic standing (see below).
UPDATE: The Crown Prince was proclaimed king on 1 December, 2016, under the name Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. His regnal name is Rama X.
3. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (b. 1955). Second daughter and third child of the late King and Queen Sirikit. Holds 2 master's degrees and a PhD. Multilingual and polymathic. Known affectionately as 'Phra Thep' (Princess Angel). Unmarried to date.
4. HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak (b. 1957). Third daughter and fourth child of the late King and Queen Sirikit. Holds a PhD in chemistry and is the founder of a scientific research institute. Married and divorced once. Permitted to keep her royal status despite having married a commoner. Has 2 daughters, who were exceptionally granted royal status by the late King (see below).
5. HRH Princess Soamsawali (b. 1957). First wife and maternal first cousin of the Crown Prince. Divorced since 1991, but retains her royal status. Never remarried. Mother of the Crown Prince's eldest daughter and child, Princess Bajrakittiyabha (see below).
6. HRH Prince Dipangkorn (b. 2005). The son of the Crown Prince and his third wife. His parents have been divorced since 2014, when his mother's royal status was revoked. He is the Crown Prince's only legitimate son to date.
7. HRH Princess Bajrakittiyabha (b. 1978). Daughter of the Crown Prince and Princess Soamsawali (see above), and eldest grandchild of the late King. Holds a doctorate in juridical sciences from Cornell and has worked for the office of Thailand's attorney general. Also served a term as Thailand's ambassador to Austria. Unmarried to date.
8. HRH Princess Siriwannawaree Nariratana (b. 1987). Daughter of the Crown Prince and his second wife. Her parents divorced in 1996, when her mother's royal status was revoked. Fashion designer and award-winning equestrienne. Unmarried to date.
9. HRH Princess Siribhachudhabhorn (b. 1982). Elder daughter of Princess Chulabhorn Walailak (see above). Graduate of Silpakorn University, Thailand's premier fine arts college. Active in drought relief and flood prevention work. She and her younger sister are the first children of a King's daughter to have royal status, which was historically limited to the children of a King's sons. Unmarried to date.
10. HRH Princess Adityadhornkitikhun (b. 1984). Younger daughter of Princess Chulabhorn Walailak and younger sister of the above. Graduate of Mahidol University. Frequently presides over temple ceremonies such as Buddha image castings. Unmarried to date.
Special mention: Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya (b. 1951). First daughter and eldest child of the late King and Queen Sirikit. Holds a B.Sc. degree from MIT and a master's degree in public health from UCLA. Forfeited her royal status on marrying a US citizen, Peter Jensen, with whom she had 1 son (deceased) and 2 daughters, none of whom had/have royal status. Returned to live in Thailand in 2001. Has starred in 2 Thai-language films.
Numbers 1 to 3 above hold the privilege of a 7-tiered umbrella. This is a great distinction because a king has a 9-tiered umbrella and other princes/princesses have 5 or fewer tiers. (These days the umbrella is a notional one rather than a real one.)
Numbers 2 to 4 above are Chao Fa, Celestial Prince/Princess, the highest princely rank, available only to the children and siblings of a king. Numbers 5 to 10 above are Phra Ong Chao, the second highest princely rank.
There will necessarily be some adjustment of names, titles, and precedence in the new reign because such things depend on the holder's relationship to the reigning king. The Crown Prince's children, for instance, will probably be elevated to Chao Fa when he takes the throne.
If I have made any factual errors, please provide gentle correction in the comments below.