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A look at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall – the Thai King’s residence

As we await the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn as King Rama X this week, let’s take a look at the official residence of the King of Thailand.

Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, also known as the Ambara Villa, is located within Bangkok’s Dusit Palace and translates to “the royal seat in the sky.” Completed in 1906, it now serves as the primary residence of the King.

History of Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall

Construction on the building began in 1890, ordered by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Originally, it was called the Ivory Garden and later changed to Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall or the Phra Thinang Amphorn Sathan.

King Rama V lived in the residence and died there in 1910, but this was not always the case. Whilst other kings spent time in the residence, it was not always a full-time living situation. For example, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) saw the residence as a temporary place to live in the time leading up to his coronation and continued to live there as renovations were made on the Chitralada Royal Villa. As soon as the work was completed in 1957, the Royal Family left Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall and moved into the villa.

A notable occurrence during King Bhumibol’s stay, however, was the establishment of the A.S. (Amphorn Sathan) Radio Station. The King would play with his band, A.S. Friday, along with other jazz musicians from his home at Amphorn Sathan, and even composed some of his own music.

According to Wikipedia, “Pathorn Srikaranonda, one of the King’s band member remembered that: ‘Anyone could call in to request music. If the band couldn’t play that song, then he would play the record instead. He even answered the phone himself. People didn’t know they were speaking to the King as His Majesty didn’t like to reveal his presence’.”

The residence switched hands to Prince Vajiralongkorn (now King Rama X) in 1972, when it was given to him by his father as an official home. He accepted the invitation to become King Rama X on 1 December 2016, inside the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall’s throne room. It remains his home to this day.

His Majesty the King inside Amphorn Sathan. By NBT – CC-BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Architecture and interior design 

The three-story residence was designed in an H-shape with two rectangular buildings (the Amphorn Sathan wing and the Udon-pak wing) connected by a bridge. The architectural style mimics that of a European country villa and the exterior includes two curved porches.

Inside, the ornate furnishings combine Art Nouveau and Napoleon III styles. The walls and ceilings are covered in frescoes painted by Italian artists Galileo Chini and Annibale Rigotti, and the furniture features intricate gold trim and carvings. Colourful patterned carpets cover the floor and the interior includes many carved stucco details with flowers and foliage.

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