Thai Culture 101: Nobility Titles
If you’ve lived in Thailand long enough or read Thailand Tatler regularly, you will have noticed people with special prefixes to their names or at least one very common add-on to Thai last names. If you’ve guessed that these are clues to a person’s lineage, specifically that of nobility or even royalty, you’d be correct. But what do each of these name tags mean? Here are four of the most common titles you’ll encounter in the Thai hi-so sphere and what they signify, as well as living examples of each for further understanding.
Mom Rajawongse (MR)
Mom Rajawongse (MR) indicates the great-great-grandchildren of the sovereign, or more strictly the children of the sovereign’s male great-grandchildren. Whereas the title for the sovereign’s great-grandchildren, Mom Chao, is a royal title equivalent to Prince or Princess in the English language, Mom Rajawongse translates as The Honourable and holders of this title are not considered members of the royal family.
MR Radeethep Devakula
Here's one Mom Rajawongse you may know. MR Radeethep Devakula was our August cover lady last year, along with her two daughters Kamonphorn and Supipa, for the mother's day issue. This power mum of three is the assistant VP for corporate communications at Thai Beverage.
Mom Luang (ML)
Also translated as The Honourable in English, Mom Luang (ML) is the title for children of male Mom Rajawongse. Although not standing members of the royal family, Mom Luang and Mom Rajawongse indicate royal descendants, with Mom Luang being where the line stops.
ML Parson Svasti
Hailing from a foodie family—his father MR Thanadsri, one of Thailand's early food critics, and his brother, the chef and food columnist McDang—ML Parson Svasti does not let the legacy down as host of several cooking shows and one of the judges of MasterChef Thailand.
Surely you know or have heard of someone with Na Ayudhya in their surname. This suffix arose in 1922 with the Family Name Act which called for all royal descendants not holding any title to adopt Na Ayudhya to the end of their last names. So if one of your friends is a Na Ayudhya, or Na Ayutthaya as occasionally seen stylised, they are indeed descendants of Thai royalty, even if far.
Vatanika Patamasingha Na Ayudhaya
She's our Generation T lister. She's a famous Thai fashion designer. She's bold and she's beautiful. You know her, she's Vatanika Patamasingha Na Ayudhaya (stylised slightly differently but nevertheless of royal descendence).
Often used loosely on female Mom Rajawongse as well, Khun Ying actually refers to wives of officers who are the permanent secretary of a minister, director-general, governor, commander-in-chief or royal office chancellor. These officers hold the title Phraya so simply put, Khun Yings are the wives of Phrayas.
Khunying Chodchoy Sophonpanich
A familiar face at the most elite parties around town, Khunying Chodchoy Sophonpanich is a the president of the Thailand Bridge League, director of the Chin Sophonpanich and Bangkok Bank Foundations and the Queen’s Gallery. Many know her as an avid environmentalist, art promoter and bridge player.
(Similar: Thai Culture 101: Songkran)