Happy 84th Birthday Queen Sirikit
Happy 84th Birthday Queen Sirikit. Sirikit was born on 12 August 1932. She met Bhumibol in Paris who is distantly related to her, both being descendants of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V.). Her father was the Thai ambassador. They married in 1950, shortly before Bhumibol’s coronation. Sirikit suffered a stroke on 21 July 2012 and has since refrained from public appearances.
At age four, Sirikit attended the Kindergarten College at Rajini School (sometimes called the Queen’s College), where she studied at the primary level. During that time the Pacific War was being fought. Bangkok was bombed many times, especially the rail lines, making travel unsafe. She therefore moved to Saint Francis Xavier Convent School, since it was near the palace. She studied at Saint Xavier from her second primary year through the early secondary level.
In 1946, with the war now over, her father moved to the United Kingdom as the ambassador to the Court of St James’s, taking his family with him. Sirikit was then 13 and completed her secondary education. While in England she learned to play the piano and became fluent in English and French. Because of her father’s work as a diplomatic, the family moved to other countries, including Denmark and France. While in France, she studied at a music academy in Paris.
Also in France, Sirikit met King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was related to her, since both were descendants of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). At that time, Bhumibol had ascended to the throne and was studying in Switzerland. Bhumibol and Sirikit (as well as a few other students) were staying at the Thai Royal Embassy in Paris. Sirikit accompanied the king as he visited various tourist attractions, and they found that they had much in common.
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 injured 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 hospitalized in Lausanne, Sirikit visited him frequently. She met his mother, The Princess Mother Sangwan, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that the king could get to know her better. Bhumibol selected a boarding school for her 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. As she was not yet 18, her parents also signed, on line 12 directly under her signature. She later received the Order of the Royal House of Chakri, and became queen. After the coronation ceremony on 5 May 1950, both went back to Switzerland to continue their studies, and returned to Bangkok in 1952.
Royal family crisis in the mid-1980s
Bhumibol and Sirikit had grown apart, the queen’s open infatuation with her military aide Colonel Narongdej Nanda-photidej became profoundly embarrassing for the king. Narongdej was sent away from Bangkok to the United States as a military attache, and died suddenly in New York in May 1985, at the age of just 38. The official explanation was that he suffered a heart attack but many Thais — including Sirikit herself — suspected something more sinister.
Her very public grief over the colonel’s death spiraled into a breakdown, and at the end of 1985 Bhumibol ordered her to undergo hospital treatment for what was officially called a “diagnostic curettage”. Sirikit vanished from view for months, and with public disquiet growing, Princess Chulabhorn was enlisted to calm anxiety in a televised interview in 1986 in which she declared: We all work for his majesty because of our loyalty towards him. Nobody in our family wants popularity for themselves. Everybody is sharing the work and we work as a team. But again, there are people who say that our family is divided into two sides, which is not true at all. The opposite was true. The whole sad episode spelled the end of Bhumibol and Sirikit’s marriage, and they lived separate lives for the next two decades. A rival royal court developed around Sirikit characterized by ultra-right wing politics and all-night dinner dances. Thailand’s establishment was never a monolithic united bloc, and the estrangement of Bhumibol and Sirikit further widened the divisions. This gave even greater scope for other leading agents in the network monarchy above all,Prem to pursue their own agenda.As his marriage collapsed, Bhumibol appears to have begun seriously considering abdication. He shocked the nation on his 59th birthday in December 1986 by hinting that he would soon step aside to make way for Vajiralongkorn to rule Thailand but Vajiralongkorn disastrous visit to Japan in 1987 and the embarrassment he made, gave the king no choice but to stay in power.
At dawn on 21 July 2012 Queen Sirikit felt unsteady and staggered while exercising at Siriraj Hospital where King Bhumibol Adulyadej resided. A team of physicians determined after performing magnetic resonance imaging that she had incurred an ischemic stroke.
The queen has been treated and has refrained from public appearances since, including the grand audience granted by her husband on his 85th birthday from the Ananta Samakhom Hall on 5 December 2012.
On 29 November 2016, the palace announced that the queen was discharged from the hospital and has returned to the Chitralada Royal Villa due to her recovery.