Long Live Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Loving Mother of the Thai Nation

Friday, 12 August 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 32 By  Pattaya Mail

Prologue

“If we look back into history and consider the role of Thai women in the past, it can be seen that Thai women have always had a hand in the salvation and progress of the country. In times of necessity, they even took up arms and fought for their country with great success and distinction.

But generally they devoted themselves to the running of their household, showing an all-round capability and always adapting themselves to suit the circumstances of the time. By constantly holding to the middle path in conducting their life, they rarely clashed with those dear and near, and at the same time, they never had the feeling of being inferior to their men folk.

Story by Peter Cummins Photos Courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household

“At the present time, circumstances have changed and modern life requires that women have to go out to work more and more. But even so, Thai women still skillfully manage to lead their life with delicate and charming skill, avoiding conflicts within the family. However much work they may do, Thai women still hold on to the middle path, to adapt themselves to the new circumstances, to be constantly wary and consider well all the happenings around them, just like their forerunners did in the past. In short, Thai women manage their life very well, but they never boast or show off.”

These shrewd observations are taken almost literally from an address by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand to the National Council of Thai Women many years ago and they shed significant light on many important aspects. They indicate, first of all, the chosen and genuine attitude of Thai women towards life and society, helping at the same time to explain why Thai women have always had a recognized and vital part in the development of the country throughout the ages and yet maintained the smoothest of relationship with their men folk. The mutual admiration and respect between the sexes in Thailand are the natural facts of life and the modern movement of women’s liberation seems to be unnecessary to Thai people.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit stands by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great as he waves to the crowd during celebrations of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty becoming Thailand’s King June 6, 2006. (AP Photo /Thailand Public Relations Department, HO) Her Majesty Queen Sirikit stands by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great as he waves to the crowd during celebrations of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty becoming Thailand’s King June 6, 2006. (AP Photo /Thailand Public Relations Department, HO)

This unique tradition of Thai women naturally stretched over the leadership of the country and became the tradition of Thai Queens from the past up to the present. Succession to the Thai Throne has been limited to the male line since the earliest establishment of the unified Kingdom until very recently and there never was any attempt or thought of claiming an equal opportunity for the female member of the Royal Family. The Thai Queens and Consorts, however, were not the unobtrusive partners as might well be expected in these circumstances. They have, instead, constantly played an integral part with their Royal Husbands in effecting and symbolizing the government of the country.

The historical episodes of how some Queens had borne arms beside their Husbands, and some even sacrificing their lives to save their Husbands, are well known to all Thai people even down to young children. The development of the Thai Monarchy, therefore, cannot be truly studied without taking into account the parts played by the Queen and consorts of all times. The life of any Monarch, in particular, would be far more comprehensible with reference to His Royal Household.

The present Queen of Thailand, as Consort to a King who has been called upon to be the first reigning Monarch in the modern democratic era of the country, is required and expected to display all the more the traditional exceptional qualities of Thai Queens and women in adapting themselves in the best and most balanced manner to the new conditions and situations.

The Early Years

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is the daughter of H.H. Prince Chandaburi Suranath (M.C. Nakkhat Mongkol Kitiyakara) and his consort Mom Luang Bua Kitiyakara (nee Mom Luang Bua Snidvongs). Prince Chandaburi Suranath was the third son of H.R.H. Prince Chandaburi Suranath and H.S.H. Princess Absarasman Kitiyakara.

She was born on August 12, 1932. The year 1932 is a significant one: it was the year when constitutional monarchy was introduced into Thailand. Her father was a prominent and capable Major-General in the Thai Army at the time of the constitutional change. He left the army and went to serve as First Secretary at the Thai Legation in Washington D.C. As HM the Queen was then still a little child, she remained in Bangkok in the charge of her relatives. She did not see her parents again until their return home.

She attended the Kindergarten class at Rajini School. But subsequently went to St. Francis Xavier School at Samsen District in Bangkok in order to be nearer to home. Her father later on became Thai Minister to France, to Denmark and ultimately Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Her Majesty accompanied him and continued her general education in the three countries and lastly in Switzerland.

It was while her father was stationed in Paris that she first met His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was then studying in Switzerland but went now and then to Paris. The chance meeting in Paris ripened into friendship and understanding. When His Majesty met with a serious motor car accident in Geneva, Switzerland and had to stay in a hospital at Lausanne, Her Majesty was a frequent visitor. When His Majesty was well again and left the hospital, He was graciously pleased to arrange for Her Majesty to continue her studies at “Riante Rive”, a boarding school in Lausanne.

Her Majesty has always been very devoted to Her children. Her Majesty has always been very devoted to Her children.

On July 19, 1949 Their Majesties were quietly engaged in Lausanne. On March 24, 1950, Their Majesties landed in Bangkok by ship after a long absence. On April 28 of the same year, the Royal Wedding took place at Padumawan Palace before the Queen Grandmother. As a democratic King and Queen, Their Majesties signed their names in the Registry Book of Marriages. Prince Chandaburi Suranath also appended his signature in the book to show that he permitted his daughter, who was then under age and required her father’s consent to the marriage, to go through the ceremony of marriage. His Majesty then crowned HM the Queen in conformity with Thai tradition.

Their Majesties have four children, namely: Princess Ubolratana, born on April 5, 1951, His Royal Highness Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, born on July 28, 1952, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, born on April 2, 1955 and Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, born on July 4, 1957.

Their Majesties took great care in the education of their children in order to prepare them to meet the various duties which they had to undertake in later life. A choice had to be made between private tutoring and sending the children to an ordinary school. Private tutoring is a good medium for imparting knowledge, but it lacks human contact with children of similar ages. Attendance at an ordinary school also has its drawbacks. From experience, it would appear that teachers, pupils and even parents are subjected to biases either favorable or unfavorable. In order to avoid these inconveniences, His Majesty, with the entire concurrence of Her Majesty, set up a school in the compound of Chitralada Villa. Better control and supervision could thus be assured. The school was established and registered in accordance with the law in November 1958. There were about 78 children in the school. The classmates of the Royal children were sons and daughters of ordinary people of various vocations. In the year 2007 the number of Chitralada School children increased to 1,822 with 285 regular teachers and several part-time teachers.

Her Majesty has always been very devoted to Her children. During their younger days, she used to spend as much time with them as Her duties would allow, and kept close supervision on all their activities. When Her Majesty was in the United States of America during the State Visit with His Majesty in 1960, a TV representative asked Her what Her favorite hobby was. The reply was: “Looking after my children!”

Humanitarian and Social Welfare

Her Majesty has many public functions to perform. She became President of the Thai Red Cross Society on August 12, 1956, and Her keenness in the work has built up Her popularity and aroused enthusiasm in the public for the cause of the Red Cross. Towards the end of 1959, H.R.H. Prince Nagor Svarga, who was Executive Vice-President of the Thai Red Cross Society, died unexpectedly. Her Majesty very ably carried on the duties which would ordinarily fall upon the Vice-President until a new Vice-President was appointed on March 18, 1960.

(23 October 2010) Her Majesty the Queen attending a sermon on the occasion of Buddhist holy day, at Wat Makut, Pra Nakorn District, Bangkok. (23 October 2010) Her Majesty the Queen attending a sermon on the occasion of Buddhist holy day, at Wat Makut, Pra Nakorn District, Bangkok.

Later on, in 1979, upon learning of the influx of about 40,000 Cambodian refugees into Thailand’s Trat Province, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit flew to the site to see the situation Herself. Then in Her capacity as President of the Thai Red Cross Society, Her Majesty set up the Khao Larn Thai Red Cross Centre to give shelter, food and medical care to those Cambodian refugees who were mostly peasant families with small children and unaccompanied orphans. The centre became a refuge for these displaced people for some years.

In her role as Honorary President of the Thai Red Cross, Queen Sirikit has always given her direct support to people in need. Recently, she donated funds to help support the treatment of people infected with the Chikunkunya virus, and taken financial responsibility for many patients in desperate need of intensive care. A former entertainer, paralyzed for 7 years; a 7 year-old child with bone cancer and a 17 year-old badly burned girl are just 3 of many victims aided by Her Majesty’s generosity. During the disastrous floods of 2008 and the severe storms in early 2009, She immediately ordered that packs of food, blankets, clothes and tools to repair homes be distributed to those affected, in order to ensure her subjects were able to recover quickly from these natural disasters.

When His Majesty entered the monkhood in 1956, Her Majesty became Regent during that period. She gave the oath of allegiance before the National Assembly. She performed Her duties so well and so satisfactorily that, on the recommendation from the Government, Her Majesty was given the title of higher distinction. She became “Somdech Phraborom Rajininath.” Such a title is given to a Queen who has ably performed the function of the Head of State on behalf of the King, when He is absent from the realm or for some reason is unable to exercise His function temporarily.

On the social side, Her Majesty accepted to become the Honorary President of the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand under His Majesty’s Patronage since August 10, 1961. The organization comprises of around 905 private and public social welfare units throughout the Kingdom and it is now a member of the International Conference of Social Work.

Since she was 18 years old, Queen Sirikit has encouraged the preservation of the environment and of Thailand’s art and culture. Most notably, she has encouraged the values of Thai life. An example of this was her support of Pu Yen, a now-deceased citizen who lived by self-sufficiency throughout his 106 years on a boat in a river, asking nothing from anyone, and having no debts. When, very late in the old man’s life, his boat home was badly damaged by heavy rain, the Queen ensured that the damage was immediately repaired, thus demonstrating that the value of one well-lived life, often overlooked, should be appreciated.

Queen Sirikit is not only concerned with her human subjects, but also with the many species of animals in the kingdom. Recently, after an elephant had been severely injured in an accident, she sent specialist veterinarians to ensure that the wounded pachyderm, much-loved symbol of Thailand itself, received the best of care.

Projects to raise the living standards of the people

Her Majesty the Queen is naturally endowed with artistic talents and is keenly interested in the world of arts and culture. One of Her special interests, which She has made her life’s work, is Thai arts and culture. Her cultural promotion activities dated back to the year 1960, when She was to accompany His Majesty the King on a state visit to Europe and the United States. She noticed at the time that there were no national dresses for Thai women, unlike the Indian Sari or the Japanese Kimono, to name only a couple.

(22 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen presiding over a Piano Recital performed by Miss Supitra Riensuvarn at the Boromrajesathitmaholarn Hall in the Chakri Throne Hall, Grand Palace.  (22 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen presiding over a Piano Recital performed by Miss Supitra Riensuvarn at the Boromrajesathitmaholarn Hall in the Chakri Throne Hall, Grand Palace.

It was high time to create a distinctive costume for the sake of national identity. With this in mind, Her Majesty researched into traditional costumes that Thai woman had worn in different historical periods, from Sukhothai, Ayuthaya to the Rattanakosin (Bangkok) periods. She then set out to adapt and modify these different modes into Thai national costumes for present-day use.

Initially, there were five designs, all worn with a long skirt: three of these have simply wrap-around skirts and the other two have a pleated fold in the middle, running the entire length of skirt. The five designs were given such names as Thai Ruan Ton, Thai Chitralada, Thai Amarin, Thai Chakri and Thai Boromabiman. Later on, more designs were gradually added to the collection; for example, Thai Dusit, Thai Prayuk, etc. These designs were launched by Her Majesty the Queen on the course of State Visits and on subsequent occasions. They are now internationally recognized as Thai national costumes.

The promotion of Thai national costumes has had lasting consequences on Thai traditional handicrafts and cottage industries, the costumes being particularly suited to hand-woven silk, plain, brocade or the patterned, tie-dyed silk, called Mud-mee. These costumes are further enhanced by traditional handbags, which again are the products of delicate craftsmanship in wickerwork.

Her Majesty’s Work in Rural Areas

“We will reign with righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people.” These words pronounced as the Oath of Accession by His Majesty the King on His Coronation Day, are not mere formalities, but form the key that unlocks the oft-wondered mystery - especially to foreigners - as to why the Thai Monarchy has remained.

This concern to reign for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people is the prime motivation which drives His Majesty the King to maintain close contact with ordinary Thai people. Her Majesty the Queen has made it Her duty to be at the King’s side on every possible occasion. These functions may include Royal audiences, receptions held on the occasion of the State Visits of Heads of States, Royal and State functions, religious and traditional ceremonies.

(1 November 2010) Her Majesty the Queen representing His Majesty the King, presenting the Annual Kathin Robes to the congregation of monks at Wat Banjamabophit, Dusit District, Bangkok. (1 November 2010) Her Majesty the Queen representing His Majesty the King, presenting the Annual Kathin Robes to the congregation of monks at Wat Banjamabophit, Dusit District, Bangkok.

Their Majesties frequently travel on extended journeys to visit Their subjects in all corners of the realm, especially the remotest and the most neglected. They have always felt particular concern for those in dire need of help and support, whether material or moral, such as people made homeless by natural disaster, the underprivileged and deprived hill tribesmen, active combat units and wounded personnel of the military and the police.

In the course of Her visits to wounded soldiers or policemen, Her Majesty gives them presents and makes inquiries after their conditions. In some of the more serious cases of injury, such as when the patient is blinded, Her Majesty would show great concern in giving personal attention to the patients and asking for minute details of their medical history and treatments to the extent of accepting them under Her Patronage. Her special care and concern on these occasions have been greatly appreciated and infinitely boosted the morale of the military and police forces who devote themselves for the sake of the country.

As the number of wounded soldiers, policeman and civilian volunteers increased, Her Majesty founded the “Sai Jai Thai Foundation” on April 2, 1975. The aim of the foundation is to help those soldiers, policemen, and civilian volunteers who became wounded or disabled, to be able to live a more comfortable life. The families of the deceased will be looked after to some extent. Her Majesty graciously entrusts this Foundation to H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Her second daughter, who has been Chairperson of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation to this very day.

These Royal trips to the rural areas, sometimes classified as “sensitive”, were undertaken in order that His Majesty the King may gain first-hand knowledge about the actual living conditions of His people. With this insight, Their Majesties have been able to alleviate their hardships as well as prevent them from reoccurring. A number of projects have been royally initiated to this end, and a great deal of their time is spent on the follow-up of these projects.

On these visits, Her Majesty the Queen likes to mix informally with the people and talk to them with great interest. Some of the visits take the Royal Couple to the simple homes of the needy; others involve long hours of car journey on bumpy earth tracks from one village to the other. On each visit, prompt aid is given to urgent cases while the sick are taken care of, either on the spot by the accompanying team of Royal physicians or at hospitals at Royal expense. A large number of patients are currently hospitalized on Royal expense in this manner both in the provinces and in Bangkok. During their hospital stay, the patients are regularly visited by court officials and basic necessities provided for. On their complete recovery, their home journey is usually arranged for them to ensure their safe return.

For Her Majesty’s outstanding work in this field, the Royal College of Physicians of London awarded Her an Honorary Fellowship on May 1, 1988.

In certain remote areas, where there is a complete absence of any health care facilities, Their Majesties would erect a “Sala Ruam Jai” or a “Pavilion of united Spirit”, which serves as a centre for primary health care as well as a library for the villagers.

Her Majesty the Queen learned from these visits that the majority of farmers find it difficult to subsist on farm income alone. While His Majesty the King launched thousands of agricultural projects to relieve their hardships, Her Majesty the Queen looks for extra income generating occupations to supplement their basic earnings.

Queen Sirikit initiated the Village Volunteer Guard project in 2004, following reports from local villagers received during her visit to the southern Thai provinces about the threat to their lives caused by the increasing violence. Soldiers were sent to affected areas to train villagers in the use of weapons to guard their villages against terrorist incursions.

In connection with her involvement with the situation in the Deep South, the Queen has continued her support and help for people affected by the ongoing crisis.  Families of soldiers killed in the line of duty have been provided with financial assistance; the dead have been honored for their sacrifice, and their families comforted. The Thai people as a whole have been made aware of the selfless acts of military personnel who are prepared to die to protect others.

Royal Development Projects

HM the Queen came to the conclusion that most Thai people are dexterous, industrious, and meticulous. Each region, moreover, has its own indigenous raw materials and cottage industry. If these indigenous handicrafts can be promoted and their utility emphasized, the rural poor would have additional occupations and incomes. With this in mind, wherever She travels, HM the Queen pays attention to indigenous cottage industries and crafts and tends to support all kinds of regional crafts.

(9 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen observing an exhibition and the progress of Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building’s construction at Chulalongkorn Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok. (9 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen observing an exhibition and the progress of Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building’s construction at Chulalongkorn Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok.

Her Majesty’s craft promotion activities have encompassed most of the country’s regions, starting with Hup Kaphing village in Petchaburi province. At the village, a project was launched by HM the Queen to encourage local women to make various kinds of accessories, such as handbags, hats, sandals, and mats out of jute and palm leaves. At the self-help community of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, HM the Queen initiated an artificial flower making project using remnants of cotton, silk and other fabrics. She also sent expert weavers to teach cotton weaving at Ayuthaya and revived the making of traditional clay dolls, known as “Chao Wang” dolls or “palace” dolls, at Tambon Bang Sadet, Ang Thong province.

The making of clay dolls at Tambon Bang Sadet originated during the course of a vacation HM the Queen took with the Royal Family at the Summer Palace of Bang Pa-in at the close of 1975. A severe flood hit Tambon Bang Sadet in nearby Ang Thong province where the farmers had already suffered from successive crop failures caused by flooding in the past. Her Majesty was accompanying HM the King on an urgent relief mission when She received the mandate from His Majesty to find a way to supplement the farmers’ incomes. It resulted in the revival of the old art of making tiny clay dolls, the raw material for which is readily available in that sub-district. Subsequently, HM the Queen provided training to the villagers by expert doll-makers and then bought the finished products which would then be sold to tourists as souvenirs.

The doll-making project, besides being a source of supplementary income, helps preserve a near-extinct aspect of Thai traditions as well as popularized Thai traditional culture overseas. The “palace dolls” do in fact faithfully portray traditional manners, clothing, aspects of everyday life and other ancient traditions and customs.

In the North, HM the Queen launched several hand-weaving projects, involving silk, brocade and thick cotton cloth. The fabrics could be fashioned into curtains, handbags and other accessories. Other crafts which have been promoted in this region include fancy clothes hangers and embroidery.

Her Majesty became fascinated by the indigenous embroidery of the hill people while she was accompanying HM the King on a visit to the Yao tribe. She observed that the Yao tribesmen were dressed in colorful and delicately embroidered costumes. Embroidery is one of the traditional crafts of all the hill-tribes, passed down from generation to generation, and deserved to be preserved and promoted. Since then, HM the Queen herself has, on several occasions, worn garments with hill-tribe embroidery in order that the tribes-people may feel proud of their traditional costumers and consequently fully appreciate the efforts to preserve and perpetuate such craftsmanship.

During one of Her private visits to the United States (January 25-March 31, 1980), Her Majesty organized a fashion show at the Shoreham Americana Hotel in Washington D.C., where a collection of hill-tribe costumes and handicrafts was presented to the American public. This promotional event attracted a large number of interested parties and important orders from big department stores, thus boosting the national economy and the hill-tribes’ livelihood.

The North-eastern people prefer to weave Mud-mee or tie-dyed silk as well as ordinary silk cloth for their family needs. But they have inadequate supplies of raw silk for the purpose. Her Majesty found a way out by giving extensive support to the raising of local silk worms. The traditional patterns and designed of Mud-mee weaving are revived and production techniques improved. Her Majesty uses Her own private funds to finance the whole enterprise, from purchasing raw material to paying wages and buying up the finished products. As an extra incentive, any outstanding weaver who distinguished herself in the art would be awarded a special prize by Her Majesty.

Weaving in the South also has a unique traditional pattern; some are modeled after the local varieties of flowers, such as the jasmines; others are more abstract. In recent years, its popularity has been declining, a phenomenon which prompted Her Majesty to take up its cause as zealously as She has done for other regions. Other Southern handicrafts have also been given her attentions, such as bulrush matting, and a delicate craft of wickerwork, using a local variety of vine, called Yan Lipao, which can be fashioned into all kinds of household accessories, including the famous evening bags. After a period of training, the southern people became outstanding in embroidery.

The Support Foundation

The Royal rural development efforts attracted a large number of donors, whose contributions formed the basis of SUPPORT, or the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, founded in 1976 under Their Majesty’s Royal Patronage and Chairmanship. The promotional work of the foundation has been recognized as highly effective, particularly since SUPPORT provides outlets for local wares and handicrafts from all regions of the Kingdom.

(22 July 2010) Her Majesty the Queen during the performance of “Khon”, a classical Thai masked dance, at Thailand Cultural Centre, Huai Khwang District, Bangkok. (22 July 2010) Her Majesty the Queen during the performance of “Khon”, a classical Thai masked dance, at Thailand Cultural Centre, Huai Khwang District, Bangkok.

In 1979, the Support Foundation Chitralada Training Center was set up to teach Thai arts and crafts to children of landless villagers. Through this project, Her Majesty succeeded in preserving some dying arts. At the present time, there are hundreds of thousands of poor and needy families around the country whose livelihoods have been much improved through Her Majesty’s SUPPORT projects.

While improving the livelihood of Her people through the SUPPORT Project, Her Majesty worked simultaneously on the conservation of natural resources and the environment. The Highland Agricultural Development Stations initiated by Her Majesty, Her “Forests Love Water”, “Little House in the Big Forest” and “Sirikit Reforestation” project has enabled people to live in harmony with nature. Forests that had been ravaged have been replanted with useful trees and medicinal plants. Watersheds have been restored and preventive measures put in place against forest fires. In addition, during the past decades Her Majesty launched many other notable environmental conservation projects, to name a few: “Offshore Natural Rehabilitation”, “Sea Turtle Conservation”, “Metallic Beetle Conservation”, “Lady Slipper Orchid Conservation By returning Them to the Wilderness”, “Elephant Conservation by Releasing Them to Return to the Forest”, and “Rehabilitation of Thai Fish, River Prawns, Mountain Frogs, Native Fowls, etc., to Feed the People”.

Her Majesty’s concern for Education and Health Care

The well-being of Her people has always been at the heart of Her Majesty’s concern. Among her concerns over the past years has been education, especially for people in remote areas of the country. That is why she founded Sala Ruam Jai, with multi-purpose centers serving the community as libraries and medical clinics. These centers provide education and entertainment, with magazines, newspapers, books, cartoons, and pictures so that villagers of all ages, even illiterates, can acquire knowledge.

(9 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen representing His Majesty the King, presiding over the Ceremony to lay the Foundation Stone of Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building, Chulalongkorn Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok. (9 December 2010) Her Majesty the Queen representing His Majesty the King, presiding over the Ceremony to lay the Foundation Stone of Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building, Chulalongkorn Hospital, the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok.

Primary health workers, called “village doctors”, are in attendance to give advice before referring sick people to the nearest local hospital. Higher up on the education ladder, Her Majesty has been providing scholarships for needy students throughout the country. Since 1974, when the program started, more than 14,000 students have been provided with Her Majesty’s scholarship.

Over sixty years after Her Royal Wedding, Her Majesty continues to dedicate Herself to the welfare and livelihood of the people. “Do not come to speak to me about profits and losses, I want poor people to have lots of work to do. My losses are the profits of the Nation,” said Her Majesty in connection with Her Royal Initiative for Model Farms, whose purposes are to create employment opportunities for farmers, provide knowledge and training in agriculture and food for local communities. Thus, His Majesty’s self-sufficiency philosophy has turned into reality.

International Recognition and Awards

A brief overview of Her Majesty’s activities amply bears witness to Her dedication to the people and her determination to better their general welfare. Her achievements in this regard have been internationally recognized by various international organizations. For example, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) asked for Royal permission to portray Her Majesty’s likeness on a Ceres Medal. Dr. Edouard Saouma, the Director of FAO said that such an honor is reserved only for great women, who, “By their lives and their work, have helped to uplift the status of women, especially in the rural areas.” The gold Ceres Medal was presented to Her Majesty at a ceremony held in the Chakri Throne Hall of the Grand Palace by the FAO Director on May 11, 1979.

On March 4, 1980 on the recommendation of the world-famous Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University of the United States of America awarded Her Majesty an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters in recognition of Her work for the rural poor of Thailand and Her humanitarian work in her capacity as Chairwoman of the Thai Red Cross Society.

For Her Majesty’s many contributions to the conservation of the environment, natural resources and wildlife in all parts of Thailand, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of World Wildlife Fund presented to Her Majesty an award as an outstanding conserver of forests and wildlife on November 19, 1986.

Her Majesty the Queen inspects some Royal silk on display for Her to give Her approval. Her Majesty the Queen inspects some Royal silk on display for Her to give Her approval.

As we said about His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej that through selfless devotion to duty supported by great intelligence, His Majesty has won the affection of the Thai people and has given a profound meaning to the Thai Throne by making it “the personification of the Thai nationhood, the symbol of the Nation’s unity and independence, the invariable constant above the inconstancies of politics, indeed, as it is written to be, the repository of the sacred trust of the whole nation.”

By equal dedication, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit has blended Her role to the most correct and most effective degree to that of His Majesty. The Thai Monarchy is thereby embellished and humanized by the feminine touch. The Monarchy thus becomes even more meaningful and more completely personifies Thai nationhood with its balanced composition of men, women and children.

Epilogue

It is often said, and sincerely believed in Thailand that Kings and Queens cannot be made but are really born as such, though we may not know it in the beginning. Thailand has continuously been ruled by men who upon their succession to the Throne have proved themselves worthy Monarchs as if born for such duties and the line of succession merely accidental.

(11 August 2010) Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Members of the Royal Family, granting an audience to representatives of various associations, organizations, foundations and educational institutions who came to pay homage and offer their loyal best wishes and congratulations to Her Majesty on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Birthday Anniversary, at Dusidalai Hill in the grounds of Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace. (11 August 2010) Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Members of the Royal Family, granting an audience to representatives of various associations, organizations, foundations and educational institutions who came to pay homage and offer their loyal best wishes and congratulations to Her Majesty on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Birthday Anniversary, at Dusidalai Hill in the grounds of Chitralada Villa, Dusit Palace.

The belief seems even farther-fetched where Thai Queens are concerned, for no female line of succession came to pass. Yet Thailand has also been blessed with many Queens who seem equally born for Their supreme responsibilities. If one looks at Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, especially as She moves by the side of His Majesty, be it in the most stately ceremonies or through the adoring crowd in the remotest areas of the country, one cannot help feeling how perfectly natural she seems to fit in the design of things. Then turn to ponder well also Her words and actions which have come forth from Her since Her elevation to the Queenship, it will be no wonder that one can believe wholeheartedly that She is, indeed, a born Queen.

Last modified on Monday, 15 August 2011 12:14
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