A frontage palace that appeared in Ruttanakosin era began when King Rama I came to his throne in 2325 B.E., and it was abolished when the last "Wang Na" (a viceroy), HRH Boworn Wichaicharn, passed away in 2428 B.E. , in the reign of King Rama V. So it ended the history of "Wang na" after this position had been in power for 103 years of Ruttanakosin era.

     "Wang Na" is commonly known for the position of a viceroy , first set up in the reign of King Borommatrilokanat. The civilian patrician order was introduced in 2009 B.E. In the reign of king Narai, the royal residence of the viceroy was promoted to be as equal as the grand palace and so called the Bowornstanmongkol palace. There may be 3 reasons that people normally called Bowornstanmongkol palace "Wang Na", which are; 1) It means the palace that is located in front of the grand palace. In Ayudhaya period, when King Naresuan was a viceroy. After he declared independence for Thai kingdom, he came to stay in Ayaudhaya and built a new palace in front of the grand palace. The palace was later for only a viceroy. 2) The formation of troops; The viceroy's troop was always in front of the main troop and so called a front troop. A royal residence for the viceroy was called "Wang Fai Na", which had shortened until it became "Wang Na". And the last reason 3) "Wang Na" would be intact only when there was a viceroy. In Thonburi period, there was no viceroy, so there was no "Wang Na".

Wang Na during 2325-2346 B.E.

    When King Rama I came to his throne in 2325, he appointed HRH Jitseiwee and HRH Tamatikorn to move Chinese community to the are of Wat Sam Pluem and Wat Sam peng. So that he could use the land at the bank of the Chao Praya river from Wat potaram (Wat Pra Chetupon), in the south, to Wat Saluk (Wat Mahatat) for the construction of the Grand Palace. He gave his permission to his brother who was a viceroy to use a part of the land at Wat Saluk to Rong Mai canal (the bangkok side of Pra Pin Klao bridge, at present) for the construction of Bowornstanmongkol palace. The viceroy was a great and well-known warrior to foreign warriors, in the name of Praya Surasee or Praya Sua. He had been a viceroy for 21 years. He died in 2346 B.E. During his reign, the palace's front area was a holy place for nuns called Wat Luang Shee. It was a residence of Nuk Shee who was a mother of Nuk Ong Ei, a viceroy's wife. At present, the area is the location of Thai Classical Dance College.

Wang Na during 2349-2360 B.E.

     After HRH Boworn Mahasura Singhanat passed away, the vcieroy position had been vacant for 3 years. King Rama I appinted his son, HRH Isarasuntorn, to be a viceroy, but stayed at his old palace (at present, it is an office for the Headquarter of Naval Operations). HRH Isarasuntorn had been a viceroy for 3 years. In 2352, he became the second king of Ruttanakosin (Bangkok). He then promoted his younger brother, HRH Bowornsenanurak, to be a viceroy. HRH Bowornsenanurak diligently helped his brother royal duties. Since King Rama II was a poet and artist. He was also seriously interested in arts, literatures, and classical dance. So the viceroy had to take action on most of royal administrative duties. HRH Bowornsenanurak had been a viceroy for 8 years. He died in 2360 B.E. The position of viceroy had been vacant until the end of the reign of king Rama II.

Wang Na during 2367-2375 B.E.

    When King Rama III came to his throne in 2367 B.E., he appointed HRH Mahasakpolsep, a son of King Rama I, to be a viceroy. HRH Mahasakpolsep gave royal command for demolition and construction of many buildings with Boworn palace. He demanded the construction of Wat Bowornstansuttawas or Wat Prakaew Wang Na at the area used to be the holy place for nuns, during the ruling of the first viceroy, and then rabbit gardens, during the ruling of the second viceroy. At present, this ancient structure is still prominent for the Classical Dance College. HRH Mahasakpolsep had been a viceroy for 8 years. He died in 2375 B.E. The position of viceroy had been vacant for 18 years.

Wang Na during 2394-2408 B.E.

     In 2394 B.E., when King Rama IV came to his throne, he appointed his younger brother, HRH Jutamanee Isaretrungsan, to be a viceroy and to be honored as equal as the king. HRH Jutamanee Isaretrungsan was given a coronation to be King Pra Pin Klao. The foreigners called him the second king. He was really interested in guns, building of steamers and warships, military science, sports, music, and English studies. He also paid his attention on Customs and lifestyles of the West. He restored and built a new palace. One important event occurred at this time was that there was an installation of Pra Buddha Sihing from the main temple in Wat Prakaew at the Grand Palace back to Wang Na (at present, this Buddha image is kept in the royal hall, Buddhisawan, at the National Museum.) He commanded the paintings on the wall of the main temple, in the story of Pra Buddha Sihing and the history of 28 Buddhas. This Buddhist temple was named "Wat Bowornstansuttawas". King Pin Klao had reigned for 15 years. He died in 2408 B.E. The position of viceroy, again, had been vacant for 3 years.ี

Wang Na during 2411-2428 B.E.

     In 2411 B.E., when King Rama V came to his throne, his ministers and members of royal family had appointed HRH Bowornwichaicharn, a son of King Pin Klao, to be a viceroy. He was a person who had brought virtue to all kind of handicrafts. He gathered craftsmen and artisan into Wang Na. So that Wang Na had become famous and regarded as original model for the capability of creating exquisite handicrafts. HRH Bowornwichaicharn had reigned for 17 years. He died in 2428 B.E. and he was the last viceroy of Thailand.

     On September 4th, 2428 B.E., King Rama V declared the order to abolish the position of a viceroy. He then demanded Wang Na precinct, on the West Side, to be a location for royal guards' battalion. Also expanded the palace's outer boundary, on the East Side, to be a big field, called Sanam Luang. After his visit to Europe in 2440 B.E., he demanded further expansion of Sanam Luang to the north. Dilapidated fortes and buildings around Wat Bowornstansuttawas, except the main temple, were all demolished. He wished to use this main temple for keeping corpse of members of royal family during the funeral. This is used instead of a previous crematorium in Sanam Luang. A small crematorium was built and adjacent to the north of this temple. After members of royal family living in Wang Na reduced, King Rama V invited them to stay in the Grand Palace. The area of Wang Na, except at the National Museum was then in the care of the Ministry of Defense.

     In 2475 B.E., Thailand changed it system of administration, from absolute power to Democracy. Thai government set up plans of education for Thai people as a basic need, which would bring prosperity and stability to the nation. The palace, belonged to 5 viceroys, have been in use for providing education and bureaucratic offices such as the National Museum, Thamasat University, the National theater, and Classical Dance College, which are all institutes that reflect the cultures of the nation.


Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
26 October 2000