[Article] 12th August - The Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
August 12th is a very special day for the people of Thailand, as it is the birthday of their beloved queen, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. In commemoration of Her Majesty, this day is also recognized as National Mother's Day. Her Majesty, together His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej, command the love, reverance and loyal among all Thai people.
Queen Sirikit's story is not one exclusively of privilege. It is a story of romance, self-discipline, courage, motherhood, devotion and, above all, support for her husband and service to the people of Thailand.
On 12 August 1932, Mom Luang (M.L.) Bua Saritwongsa safely delivered a baby girl. The father, General H.R.H. Prince Nakkhatra Manggala Kittiyakara Krommamuen Chandaburi Suranath, was delighted by the birth of his precious daughter, who he named Mom Rajawongse (M.R.) Sirikit. So precious was the future Queen that her name was recommended by H.M. King Prajadipok (Rama VII). It's not everyday one has their name suggested by their King but also it was not every day that a baby girl was born into the Royal House of Chakri. Indeed, baby Mom Rajawongse could trace her noble lineage back to H.M. King Rama I the Founder of the Royal Chakri Dynasty!
Childhood seemed to pass quickly with young Mom Rajawongse leading a normal, albeit protected life. Mom Rajawongse first started her schooling at the Rajini Schoo, and later receieved her secondary education at the St. Francis Xavier Convent School. Young Mom Rajawongse's father, Prince Nakkahatra, was in the Thai Diplomatic Corps and when an appointment to the Court of St. James took him to London, the family also transferred overseas. Successive diplomatic postings took the family to Continental Europe, first to Copenhagen and then to Paris. It is said that the city of Paris turns the hearts of many young women to love and so it was with Mom Rajawongse Sirikit.
Studying diligently at Lausanne, in the neighboring country of Switzerland, was a certain young gentleman who often travelled to the Thai Embassy in Paris for relaxation and a change of scenery. The young couple met and, perhaps due to the romance that hung in the air of Paris, fell in love. The young gentleman was none other than H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. When, later, the Young King suffered injury in a Swiss motoring accident, Mom Rajawongse Sirikit (accompanied by her Mother) visited Lausanne frequently to give support to her King. The young couple's romance continued to blossom and with the the approval of both families, their official engagement was announced from the King's Villa Wattana in Lausanne on 19 July 1949. When the news reached Thailand, the people were simply ecstatic. After the deprivations of World War II, the nation was hungry for good news and a chance for celebration.
The Royal Couple were married on 28 April 1950 in the Srapatum Palace, one week prior to the ceremonial coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol (the King wished to conclude his university degrees before being officially crowned). With two great ceremonies only a week apart, the entire Kingdom of Thailand rejoiced in a kaleidoscope of regal pageantry and popular festivities. The nation had a new King and a beautiful, new Queen.
Since those days of Paris, Lausanne and the Coronation, H.M. Queen Sirikit's love and devotion has embraced not only her husband, the King, but encompassed her family and the entire nation of Thailand. Hers is a “job” which no one would envy, as it demands great self-discipline in her public life, little privacy from the eyes of the media, as well as long tiring hours of working and devotion to her country. Contrary to the difficult nature of her responsibilities, H.M. Queen Sirikit has ably, graciously and regally risen to the task.
Her Majesty has accompanied The King on all of overseas engagements and has been by his side when welcoming other Crowned Heads of State and Envoys to Thailand. In fact, when H.M. King Bhumibol entered Buddhist monastic life in 1956, Queen Sirikit was Regent of the Kingdom of Thailand (a second Queen of Thailand to receive such an honour).
Her Majesty has been a constant source of support and inspiration to those less privileged that look up to the Royal Family for guidance. The Queen has accompanied her husband to every corner of the nation and, many times, has travelled alone on visits to distant provinces. Her Majesty's list of Royal Project Foundations echo those of her husband H.M. King Bhumibol, although Her Majesty, understandably, tends to favor women's self-help programs in rural Thailand.
When it comes to helping village women start a small enterprise for weaving, candle making, herbal medicines, fabric dying or any other means of income-generation, Queen Sirikit is invariably the directing funds to worthy Royal Projects. In instances where Government hands have been tied, Queen Sirikit has frequently dipped into her own Royal Budget to provide projects “ start-up ” funds. Care and compassion is an unstinting part of Queen Sirikit's life.
Because of her interest in Thai handicrafts using local materials, Her Majesty arranged for instructors to be sent out and help the villagers improve the quality of their products. This project continued to expand until it was formally established as the Arts and Crafts Support Foundation under Her Majesty's Royal Patronage.
The Bangsai Arts and Crafts Training Centre is one of Her Majesty's projects located on the left bank of Chao Phraya River, in Tambon Charng Yai, Bangsai district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province, established on 3 June 1980. Its objective is to provide training of handicrafts and supplementary occupations to those who are in poor conditions. Numerous buildings are standing orderly in line in the middle of this Centre in the area of almost 1,000 Rai. Each of them is arranged to be a training place for farmers and other interested persons. There are 28 distinctive sections such as sewing and machine embroidery, leather projects, water hyacinth products, glass sculpture, Thai marks making, silk weaving and reproduction arts.
The Bangsai Art and Crafts Centre has also become a tourist attraction. A very interesting place to visit is its bird sanctuary which is designed to simulate a natural environment. Many species of rare birds can be watched here. A bridge also permits visitors to view the birds from a very close distance.
The Centre and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) jointly constructed the "Four-Region Village" which gathers arts, culture and way of life of all parts of Thailand. Another project is a freshwater fish aquarium named "First Palace" where visitors can learn more deeply about the wealth of beauty of aquatic lives.
Aside from great enjoyment of music (Her Majesty is a talented pianist and keen concert goer), does Queen Sirikit have time for a private life away from official duties and ceremonies? If she has, it should and must remain so. Everyone needs “ time out ” to relax and recuperate so we, at “ Welcome to Chiangmai and Chiangrai ” magazine trust that Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand will have some quality ”time out” with family and friends on the occasion of her birthday.
Everyone loves a birthday party so as fireworks light up the sky and public buildings throughout the nation are bathed in celebratory, festive floodlights, may we also join with our fellow Thais, countrywide, in singing” Happy Birthday ” for our beloved Queen Sirikit.
...LONG LIVE THE QUEEN...