Thai people usually have a long official first and last name, and very short nickname that is much more often used. Both Pai and King Vajiralongkorn fit this pattern.
Vajiralongkorn is pronounced “wa-CHEE-raa-long-gon” with the accent on the second syllable. According to the English version of the BBC article that Pai is in jail for sharing on Facebook, this name means “adorned with jewels or thunderbolts.”
The King’s full name at birth was: “Vajiralongkorn Borommachakkrayadisonsantatiwong Thewetthamrongsuboriban Aphikhunuprakanmahittaladunladet Phumiphonnaretwarangkun Kittisirisombunsawangkhawat Borommakhattiyaratchakuman.” On December 28, 1972, when Vajiralongkorn was named Crown Prince, his name was changed to Somdet Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman.”
But more recently, Vajiralongkorn was given the name that he will be using as king: Somdet Prajao Yoo Hua Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. The first part “Somdet Prajao Yoo Hua” is a title that directly translates either “His Majesty, King of our hearts” or “His Majesty, King over our heads.” So English speakers are only asked to call him:
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.
Maha, just means “Great.” For the reasons described in earlier episodes of “The King and Pai,” I personally can’t bring myself to call him that. As for “Bodindradebayavarangkun,” I’m going to wait and see if it catches on before I go to the trouble of learning it. So for the moment, he is “King Vajiralongkorn” to me.
In fact, until recently, even his first name “Vajiralongkorn,” which he has always had, sounded very unfamiliar – and not only to me. On the couple occasions when I asked people how to pronounce the name of the Thai Prince, they’d check with each other and the Internet before settling on an answer. Continue reading