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12 August, The Birthday of
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand

August 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.

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 12th August 1932, Mom Luang (M.L.) Bua Saritwongsa safely delivered a baby girl. (The word of Mom is pronounced as "Mhom"). The father, General H.R.H. Prince Nakkhatra Manggala Kittiyakara Krommamuen Chandaburi Suranath, was thrilled by the news and the happy parents were delighted to name their little girl Mom Rajawongse (M.R.) Sirikit. In fact, this name had been suggested by the reigning monarch of the time 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. For 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, although protected, life. Early education was taken at the Rajini School followed by higher academic attendance 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 Paris air, 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 cheer to her King. The romance flowered into full color, to the approval of both families, and on 19 July 1949 an official engagement was announced from the King's Villa Wattana in Lausanne. When the news reached Thailand, the people were simply ecstatic. After the deprivations of wartime Japanese occupation, the nation was hungry for good news and a chance for celebration.

The Royal Couple were married on 28th April 1950 in the Srapatum Palace, which was 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 public life, little private life away from the media and the most awful, inconsiderate hours! But 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 for a time in 1956, Queen Sirikit was Regent of the Kingdom of Thailand (only the second time a Queen of Thailand has been so honored).

As the people of this nation well know, Her Majesty has been a constant motivator, supporter and inspiration to those less privileged that look to the Royal Family for example, guidance and fulfillment. 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 business for weaving, candle making, herbal medicines, fabric dying or whatever else will bring gainful employment and remuneration to rural villages, 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.

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 THEIR MAJESTIES!

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