Prince Chula Chakrabongse was born on 28 March 1908 in Paruskavan Palace, Bangkok, with the title Mom Chao (His Serene Highness). Saovabha Phongsri, his grandmother, gave him the name Phongchak (พงษ์จักร; rtgs: Phongchak). Later his uncle, King Vajiravudh, raised him the higher rank of Phra Chao Worawong Thoe Phra Ong Chao (His Royal Highness Prince) and changed his name to Chunlachakkraphong. Palace officials affectionately called him “the Little Prince” (ท่านพระองค์หนู Than Phraong Nu). In 1938 he married Elizabeth Hunter, an English woman (known as Lisba). Their daughter, Mom Rajawongse Narisa Chakrabhongse, was born in 1956. They lived at Tredethy, St Mabyn, in Cornwall in the 1940s and 1950s.
When very young, Chula was sent to study in the United Kingdom, where he also spent his teenage years, attending Harrow School, not returning to Thailand until he was 23.