Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand celebrates her birthday on Aug. 12
The birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, like His Majesty the King’s, is a national holiday. Thus on Aug. 12 — also “Mothers’ Day” in the country – the entire nation holds a big celebration featuring a variety of merriment and festivities designed to pay respect, honor, and express love, esteem, and reverence for the woman who is not only the world’s longest serving consort of a monarch, but also known for her charitable works, individual achievements, talents, compassion, and generosity. HM Queen Sirikit, the “Mother of the Thai Nation,” turns 83 this year.
Born in 1932, Her Majesty is particularly revered in the more remote and traditional parts of the country, where the monarchy is regarded as semi-divine. Her work in promoting tolerance and understanding for the Muslim minorities in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat have made her especially popular among the local Muslim populace.
Her Majesty is the eldest daughter and the third child of Prince Nakkhatra Mangkala Kitiyakara, the son of Prince Kitiyakara Voraluksana, Prince of Chanthaburi I and Mom Luang Bua Sanitvongse. Her name, given by King Prajadhipok, means “Greatness of Kitiyakara.”
After her birth, Her Majesty was raised by her maternal grandparents for a year. When her father went to United States to work as secretary at the Siamese Royal Embassy at Washington D.C., her mother joined her father. Her parents returned to Thailand when she was one-year-old. As a child, Her Majesty often had outdoor visits with her paternal grandmother. Once in 1933, she traveled with Princess Absornsamarn Devakul following King Prajadhipok’s tour in Songkhla.
At the age of 4, Her Majesty attended the Kindergarten College at Rajini School (sometimes called the Queen’s College, but when the Pacific War broke out Her Majesty then moved to Saint Francis Xavier Convent School, because it was near the palace.
When the war ended in 1946, Her Majesty’s father moved to the United Kingdom to work as the ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. He took his family with him. At that time, Her Majesty was just 13 and had just graduated from the secondary level. In England, she learned to play the piano, English, and and French. She and her family moved to various countries including Denmark and France. She studied at a music academy in Paris, France.
It was also in France where she met His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who at the time had ascended to the throne and had been studying in Switzerland. Both happened to be staying at the Thai Royal Embassy in Paris, and both found common grounds to begin a relationship.
When His Majesty was hospitalized in Lausanne in 1948, Her Majesty visited him frequently. She met his mother, The Princess Mother Sangval, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that His Majesty could get to know her better. A quiet engagement followed on July 19, 1949, and on April 28, 1950, just a week before His Majesty’s coronation, their Majesties were married. Later, Her Majesty received the Order of the Royal House of Chakri, and became queen. After the coronation ceremony on May 5, 1950, their Majesties went back to Switzerland to study but returned to Bangkok again in 1952.
Her Majesty is well-known for her charitable works and has also been active in relief work for the many Cambodia and Burma refugees. Her Majesty is also active in promoting Thai culture and history, and her royal work in various fields and disciplines has been recognized with various local and international awards.
The management and staff of Look East Magazine join the entire kingdom in wishing Her Majesty happy birthday. Long Live the Queen!