Tatler Thailand

Looking Back

Maj Gen HSH Prince Chulcherm Yugala experience­d great highs and great lows during his long military career. In retrospect, he tells Tanya Poolvorala­ks, both taught him valuable life lessons

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alking through the doors of Royal Princess Larn Luang Hotel along with his wife and daughter—both dressed in black—is a middleaged man dressed in a white uniform adorned with golden aiguillett­e and colourful badges. He is dressed in such formal attire for a reason: earlier in the day, he had attended the royal funeral rites of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. “I am a retired royal guard,” says Maj Gen HSH Prince Chulcherm Yugala solemnly. “I was a royal aide-de-camp for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana but since her passing, I have retired.”

Like many military men, HSH Prince Chulcherm followed in his father’s footsteps. “I had always wanted to be in the military because as a child I saw my father, HRH Prince Anusornmon­gkolkarn, dressed in soldier’s uniform,” he explains. “I saw him undergoing vigorous military training and serving his country.” But seeing his father in his military stripes as a child is not the only reason he signed up; there was also a desire to make him happy. “My father was interested in two things: filmmaking and the military. He had two sons, my brother HSH Prince Chatrichal­erm Yugala and me. Since my brother went into the film industry, I decided to go for the military. That made him very happy because one son was doing what he loved and the other was doing what he took great interest in. I was very happy to see his dreams fulfilled.”

Embarking on the military path yielded many of his proudest moments. “It was a highlight of my life when HM Queen Sirikit saw my military veteran badges and mentioned that I was the only royal member of that time to have gone to war, while HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej also acknowledg­ed it with a smile,” he says. “After that, I became a royal guard and served HRH Princess Galyani. She taught me some historical facts. It was my utmost honour to learn from her.”

HSH Prince Chulcherm has been through some tough times. “Upon securing a position in the army as the second lieutenant communicat­ion officer, I joined the royal military academy to make connection­s. After completing the two-year course, I was sent to fight where thousands of Thai soldiers died,” he recalls, referring to the civil war against communists that raged on Khao Khor, in Petchabun, in the late 1970s. “Initially I was scared,” he says of that time. “I mean, everybody wants to live but after witnessing several soldiers under my command, most of whom were unwillingl­y drafted, get shot dead, I realised that, as a prince who consented to becoming a soldier, I had to step up and lead.”

Today, he and his wife, Mom Anchalee Yugala na Ayudhya, are happiest when spending time with the family. “Now that my children—MR Rangsipant, MR Chantarala­dda, MR Mannarumas, MR Chandranip­a and Patricka—think I’m getting old, they come to take care of me…but I am more than capable,” he says laughing. During his free time, he loves to spend time with his four grandchild­ren and indulge in his hobby. “Other than taking my grandchild­ren out, I love to build plane models,” he says. “I used to watch my father piece together plastic models ever since I was young and I came to like it too. And no, my grandchild­ren do not know how to put them together,” says HSH Prince Chulcherm with a big smile on his face. “They only know how to destroy them.”

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