Friday, December 16, 2011

Queen Sirikit of Thailand

Queen Sirikit of Thailand (Thai: สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถ; Literally: "Her Majesty Queen Regent Sirikit"; born Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara on August 12, 1932), is the queen consort of Bhumibol Adulyadej, King (Rama IX) of Thailand. She is the second Queen Regent of Thailand (the first Queen Regent was Queen Saovabha Bongsri of Siam, later Queen Sri Patcharindra, the queen mother). As the consort of the king who is the world's longest reigning head of state, she is also the world's longest serving consort of a monarch, though Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, more than eleven years her senior, is the oldest currently serving consort.

Early life
Queen Sirikit was born on August 12, 1932, at the home of Lord Vongsanuprabhand, her maternal grandfather. She is the eldest daughter and the third child of Prince Nakkhatra Mangkala Kitiyakara, the son of Prince Kitiyakara Voralaksana, and Mom Luang Bua Sanidvongs. Her name, which was given by King Prajadhipok, means "the Greatness of Kitiyakara".

She had three siblings; two elder brothers and a younger sister:
    * Prof. Mom Rajawongse Galyanakit Kitiyakara, M.D. (September 20, 1929 – May 15, 1987)
    * Mom Rajawongse Adulyakit Kitiyakara (November 2, 1930 – May 5, 2004)
    * Mom Rajawongse Busba Kitiyakara (born August 2, 1934)

Sirikit was raised by her maternal grandparents for a year after her birth, as her father went to United States to work as the secretary of the Siamese Royal Embassy at Washington D.C. Her mother joined her husband three months later. When she was one year old, her parents returned to Thailand. Sirikit lived together with her family in Deves Palace, near Chao Phraya River, Bangkok.

As a child, Sirikit often had outdoor visits with her paternal grandmother. Once in 1933, she traveled with Princess Absornsaman Devakula following King Prajadhipok's tour in Songkla.

At age 4, Sirikit attended the Kindergarten College at Rajini School (sometimes named as the Queen’s college). She studied until her first year at the primary level. During that time was the Pacific War, and Bangkok was attacked many times, thus causing unsafe transportation. She then moved to Saint Francis Xavier Convent School, because it was near the palace. She studied at that school from her second year at the primary level to the secondary level.

In 1946, when the war ended, her father moved to the United Kingdom to work as the ambassador to the Court of St. James's, taking his family with him. At that time, Sirikit was 13 and had graduated the secondary level. While staying in England, she learned to play the piano and learned English and French. She and her family moved to various countries including Denmark and France. While staying in France, she studied at a music academy in Paris.

In France, she met King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who at that time had ascended to the throne and had been studying at Switzerland. Sirikit welcomed the king by accompanying him to various tourist attractions. Both the king and Sirikit happened to be staying at the Thai Royal Embassy in Paris, as well as a few other students. Both the king and Sirikit found common grounds on their likes and dislikes and thus began a relationship.

On 4 October 1948, while Bhumibol was driving a Fiat Topolino on the Geneva-Lausanne road, he collided into the rear of a braking truck 10 km outside of Lausanne. He hurt his back and incurred cuts on his face that cost him most of the sight in one eye.He subsequently wore an ocular prosthetic. While he was hospitalised in Lausanne, Sirikit visited him frequently. She met his mother, The Princess Mother Sangval, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that the king could get to know her better. Bhumibol selected for her a boarding school in Lausanne, Riante Rive. A quiet engagement in Lausanne followed on 19 July 1949, and the couple married on 28 April 1950, just a week before his coronation.

The marriage took place at Srapathum Palace. Queen Sri Savarindira, the Queen Grandmother presided over the marriage ceremony. Both the king and Sirikit signed on line 11 of their certificate of marriage (ทะเบียนการสมรส.) As she was not yet 18, her parents also signed, on line 12 directly under her signature. Reproductions of the certificate are popular as souvenirs, and may be found by searching for its common name, "ใบสมรส สิริกิติ์". [1] She later received the Order of the Royal House of Chakri, and became queen. After the coronation ceremony on May 5, 1950, both went back to Switzerland to continue their studies, and returned to Bangkok in 1952.

When the king undertook a period of service as a Buddhist monk in 1956 (as is customary for all Thai Buddhist males), Queen Sirikit became regent. She performed her duties so satisfactorily that she was made queen regent and given the style of "Somdej Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat" by her husband on his birthday, December 5, 1956. Upon this inception, she became the second Siamese queen regent. The first queen regent was Queen Saovabha Bongsri of Siam, who was regent when her husband King Chulalongkorn travelled to Europe, and later became Queen Sri Patcharindra, the queen mother.

The couple has 4 children; 3 daughters and a son:
    * (Formerly HRH) Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, born April 5, 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland; married Peter Ladd Jensen, has 2 daughters (one son deceased)
    * HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, born July 28, 1952; married first time with Mom Luang Soamsavali Kitiyakara (later divorced and became HRH the Princess Niece); has 1 daughter. Then married second time with Yuvadhida Polpraserth; has 4 sons and a daughter. And married third time with Srirasmi Akharaphongpreecha; has one son.
    * HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, born April 2, 1955; unmarried
    * HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, born July 4, 1957; married Virayudh Didyasarin, (then divorced); has 2 daughters.

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