12th is a very special day for the people of Thailand. Their beloved Queen
will celebrate her birthday. In recognition of Her Majesty, this day is also
recognized as National Mother's Day. (A reminder for all to give the caring
woman in their life an extra hug on this day.) It is perhaps difficult for
those who are not Thai to appreciate and understand how much warmth and love
is bestowed upon Queen Sirikit, by her people and the society that she,
together with His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej, represents. Our
Queen, on the other hand, rises above the mire of politics and helps lead
her people by duty, service and respect for her country. Such are the gifts
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand continually gives to her country. And
the 12th August is the anniversary of her birth in the year of 1932.
The 12th August is declared a Public Holiday, Government and
commercial buildings will be floodlit to give a festive touch, religious and
civic ceremonials will be held and people, from the smallest villages to the
largest palaces. All will lift a glass to toast the Health of Queen Sirikit.
Queen Sirikit came into this world on August 12th 1932, of noble parentage,
and was named Mom Rajawongse Sirikit which means "Glory and Splendor of the
Kittiyakara Family". This name was given to the baby girl by her relative
H.M. King Prajadipok (Rama VII). It proved to be auspicious and, indeed, an
astrologer predicted that someday the little girl would rise to great
Mom Rajawongse Sirikit's father was a member of the Thai Diplomatic Corps,
and was based at the Embassy
in Washington D.C., so both her parents were obliged to live abroad.
Accordingly, the little girl lived with her grandparents in Bangkok, until
such time as her father was able to transfer within the Diplomatic Service
and the family was reunited in their Bangkok home on the shores of the
mighty Chao Phraya River.
As befitted the heritage of the young girl, she attended the Rajini School
and, later, the St Francis Xavier Convent School until she was 13 years of
age. Then it was off to London to join her father who, now as Thai
Ambassador, had presented his credentials to King George VI at the Court of
St James. Two years later, in 1948, the young Mom Rajawongse Sirikit
followed her parents to Paris where her father was the Ambassador to the
Republic of France. And in that beautiful city, still recovering from its
occupation during World War II, she continued her education.
At this point, we will permit our story to digress a little. A young Prince
Bhumibol Adulyadej had become King of Thailand in 1946, at the age of 18,
due to the untimely death of his elder brother. Coronation ceremonies were
postponed until 1950 in order to facilitate the completion of the young
King's academic studies. These were being undertaken in Lausanne,
Switzerland, and from time to time King Bhumibol would take a break from
study routines by visiting Paris. It was during one such visit that he met
Mom Rajawongse Sirikit who was to become his future wife and Queen.
The young Royals became firm friends and then, disaster, when the King
suffered a terrible car accident and was hospitalised in Switzerland. The
future Queen, accompanied by her mother, displayed true friendship and
characteristic compassion by travelling to Lausanne where she might visit
her friend the King. This she did on a regular basis and, on the long road
of the King's recovery and convalescence, the friendship blossomed into a
committed, serious, Royal love affari
the huge delight of the Thai Nation, King Bhumibol's engagement to Mom
Rajawongse Sirikit was officially announced on July 19, 1949. A wedding date
was set for April 28, 1950, this being considered a most auspicious day, and
national plans were put into motion. The Royal Couple were married with all
the pomp and ceremony of Thai Royal Tradition and the nation rejoiced.
Further tumultuous rejoicing heralded, a few days later on May 5, the
Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol of Thailand and, on the same day,
his wife Mom Rajawongse Sirikit was honored and elevated to be Her Majesty
Queen Sirikit of Thailand.
Since that day in 1950, Her Majesty has been devoted to her husband The King
and she has, likewise, given devoted service to the People of Thailand. She
has lovingly perfomed her Royal responsibilities or duties and has been an
inspiration to the People of the Kingdom.
Naturally interested in the environment, Her Majesty's principal areas of
concern have been associated with conservation. Organizations like the
Association for the Conservation of Wildlife (ACW) and the Wildlife Fund of
Thailand (WFT) have benefited from the Queen's patronage as have many
others. Also, as a regular traveller around Thailand, either individually or
with her husband The King, Queen Sirikit has been able to identify
areas of need. Being aware of depressed areas where many people struggled to
make a living off the land (and denuding the land in the process), Her
Majesty was a prime mover in "marrying" two needs together assisting the
people by helping the land. This was done by actually offering conservation
work to needy people and this proved a huge success in terms of putting
money into the hands of the less fortunate and restoring the environment.
The beautiful Botanical Gardens, named for Queen Sirikit, in Mae Sa Valley
(an easy excursion from Chiang Mai City) is a classic example of how the
Queen's influence and help has protected, conserved and developed native
plant species and provided much needed employment in the process.
As First Lady, Her Majesty empathizes with other Thai women, their needs and
capabilities. So another target for Her Majesty's endeavors was to encourage
Thai handicrafts traditional to women. Spinning, weaving and dying of cotton
(in fact, the Queen personally financed many of the weaving looms and
provided "seed" money for support groups and cooperatives) is one example of
traditional skills as is basket weaving in its many forms. Anything from
fishtraps to matting to decorative baskets and stylish lampshades all from
the hands of industrious Thai ladies. And all thanks to the personal
encouragement and financial support from Her Majesty, the Queen.