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Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, happy birthday August 12, 2009.

We would like to join with all the people of Thailand and around the world in wishing Her Majesty Queen Sirikit a very happy 77th birthday on August 12, 2009. When  pronounced in the Thai language, her title sounds like music, and her name, Mohm Rajawongse Sirikit, is indeed music to the ears of the Thai people, for she has long been their angel and their guardian.

Mohm Rajawongse Sirikit was born on August 12, 1932, in the city of Bangkok. In Thai, her name means Glory and Splendor of the Kitiyakara Family, and was suggested by HM King Prajadipok (Rama VII), reigning monarch at the time of her birth. Her parents were Colonel Mohm Chao Nakkhatra Mongkol Kitiyakara and Mohm Luang Bua Kitiyakara. The title Mohm Rajawongse indicates she is a child of a Mohm Chao and thus descended from royalty. Her grandfather was HRH Prince Kitiyakara Voralaksana, Prince of Chandaburi, and son of the legendary King Rama V. Her Majesty’s lineage can be traced all the way back to HM King Rama I, founder of the Royal Chakri Dynasty.

Mohm Rajawongse Sirikit received her secondary education at St. Francis Xavier Convent in Bangkok  and continued her education in London, Copenhagen, and Paris, where her father was serving as diplomat. It was in Paris that she became friends with HM Bhumibol Adulyadej, the then uncrowned king of Thailand, who often visited the Thai Embassy in Paris on breaks from his university studies in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It was shortly after one such visit to Paris, when King Bhumibol was seriously injured in a car accident in Lausanne and Sirikit flew to his bedside. She was a frequent visitor during his long convalescence, and, in the course of those visits, friendship turned to love. The couple’s engagement was announced on July 19, 1949. On April 28, 1950, the couple married in Srapatum Palace. One week later on the 5th of May, 1950 coronation, HM King Bhumibol elevated his bride to Queen.

Since that time, fifty nine years ago, Queen Sirikit has served the King and assisted the Thai people without pause, and always appears serene, elegant, and smiling. When asked some years ago why he didn’t smile more often, the King replied, “The Queen smiles for us.”

Her Majesty the Queen has earned the loyalty and respect of the entire nation for her devotion to the King and their four children, and for her life of public service. It is her tireless work on behalf of Thailand, both alongside the King and in her personal initiatives, that has earned her a special place in the hearts of her subjects from all walks of life.

In the area of health care, Her Majesty quickly established a team of doctors and nurses, the Royal Medical Unit, to tour the nation , dispensing free medical services to the needy. This was followed by the Village Doctor Program, targeting rural and poor people, and followed by numerous other medical programs. Queen Sirikit has reiterated that it is her heartfelt desire that every Thai child receive a proper education, regardless of family income, and to that end she made educational assistance to those who most need it. When opportunities are given to Thai youths to be trained properly despite their age and education, their skills in making golden nielloware and wood carving improved to be very outstanding. Furthermore, the Queen has distinguished herself as a conservationist. She has excelled in protecting and replanting forests, caring for rivers and watersheds, protecting the habitat of wildlife and, creating the artificial reefs as home for an abundance of marine life providing for their survival.

The generation of income through traditional Thai crafts, has been a favorite focus of The Queen for more than thirty years. In 1989 she said, “I always take pride that artistry runs deep in every Thai’s blood. Whatever his occupation, farmer or otherwise, and wherever he lives, each and every one of our countrymen possess artistry, finesse, and sensibility. If only he is given an opportunity to learn and to be trained, his ability will become evident.” The Queen’s interest in this project began in the early days of their reign, when the King and Queen travelled extensively in the kingdom, particularly in the most remote regions where the need for help and support was most evident. At this time, the Queen became aware that farming alone did not generate sufficient income to support many of the families in rural Thailand. She noticed that each of the regions of Thailand is a source of a variety of indigenous raw materials and folk crafts. Queen Sirikit was convinced that if efforts were undertaken to promote indigenous handicrafts, the rural poor would be able to supplement their incomes and improve their circumstances. Thus the SUPPORT (Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques)  initiative was begun by the Queen in 1970 and officially became a Foundation in 1976. Since the early days, she has tirelessly devoted her efforts to the activities of this important Foundation.

The Foundation provides vocational training for residents of rural communities, enabling them to become skilled artisans. Furthermore, the training prepares artisans to go beyond the rote repetition of skills and patterns as taught, and encourages them to develop artistic creativity, all the while stressing technical excellence and the quest for perfection as the ideal to achieve true creative freedom. The first SUPPORT Training Center, which is also the headquarters today, is located at Chitralada Residence in Dusit Palace in Bangkok. The organization houses a total of 23 training divisions. These are:

Silver and Gold Golden Nielloware
Khram Damascene Ware Enamel Ware
Textile Weaving  Prae Wa Silk
Pha Jok Weaving Pha Yok Dok
Wood Carving Soapstone Carving
Pha Lai Khit Shadow Puppets
Yan Lipao Basketry Lai Khit Basketry
Carpentry and Rattan Work Dolls
Traditional Design Embroidery
Mother of Pearl Decoration Artificial Flowers
Dressmaking  Packaging
Malaeng Thap Beetle Wing Collage

Marketing the products handicrafted by trainees and graduates is one of the most important activities undertaken by the SUPPORT Foundation. Recognizing that it would be a daunting task for the artisans themselves to find suitable markets for their crafts, the Foundation purchases finished products and arranges to sell them through various marketing channels, such as the annual Foundation Fair at Suan Amporn Gardens.

The revival of these folk crafts has been a particular boon to rural women who have returned to the remunerative pastimes of a bygone era: silkworm culture, spinning, weaving, and the dyeing of cotton and silk. The launching of cottage industries has provided necessary income while insuring that ancient skills and crafts are not allowed to die out.

Her Majesty a devout Buddhist frequently records tapes of prayers and Buddhist teachings for the blind or given to people who are very ill. When recording Her Majesty orders that she not be disturbed until she has finished. Her Majesty has visited many temples on various Buddhist holy days for monks’ preaching and is proud to see the people attend.

Her Majesty advised her citizens to restore our great national heritage of Khon, “Ramayana Masked Dance”, that influences six countries in Southeast Asia. Sometimes the busy Queen spends the whole day recording the Jataka Stories on tape. She has spoken out several times about food culture, especially Thai unpolished rice having great nutritional values other than carbohydrate. The unpolished rice is widely recognized to contain vitamin B1, B2, calcium, iron, and other substances. She has urged both greater production and greater consumption of the grain.

Her Majesty is proud that Thai youths have won the championship and top prizes in several areas " Tennis Wimbledon 2009, Olympic competition in academics, Robot Rescuer, and Musical Marching Bands. She also praised villagers for their remarkable artistic skills in making exquisite traditional handicrafts described by foreign visitors as “World Class” quality.

For this constant attention to the greater good, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is unanimously respected and revered. We take pride and pleasure in wishing her many happy returns on the occasion of her birthday.

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