Princess Bejaratana

Her Royal Highness Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda Sirisobha Pannavadi was the only daughter of His Majesty King Vajiravudh, or Rama VI of the Chakri Dynasty. Her mother was Her Royal Highness Pra Nang Chao Suvadhana, of the Abhayavongsa family, who was the king's fourth and last consort. Princess Bejaratana was born on 24 November 1925, at the Thepsathanpilas Throne Hall, situated to the right of the Chakrapaspiman Throne Hall in the Grand Palace. As the King was on his death bed, he knew of the birth, that it was a princess, from the music sounding in the courtyard. The king murmured, "It is well." Her Majesty Queen Sri Savarindira, who was Queen Sri Bajarindra's sister, and thus aunt to King Vajiravudh, oversaw the birth ceremony. The next morning, King Vajiravudh was briefly presented with his daughter. His Majesty was unable to speak by then, and passed away that same afternoon.

King Vajiravudh's younger brother, Prajadhipok, became King Rama VII, who named his niece Bejaratana Rajasuda Sirisobha Pannavadi, translated roughly as a Royal Lady with the beauty of a diamond. The new king arranged for the Royal Ceremony to welcome the new princess at the Throne Hall where she was born, and later granted permission for mother and daughter to move to Suan Hongsa Villa at the Dusit Palace, which was Queen Sri Savarindira's old villa, per the request of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager.

In 1932, mother and daughter moved back into the Grand Palace as it would be safer from the political unrest that was happenning in Thailand. They moved again after a plane crashed onto the grounds of the Grand Palace, this time to the Sra Pratum Villa, home of the Queen Dowager. While the country was going through turmoil, the princess moved with the Queen Dowager to Songkla for a while, before moving back to Sra Pratum Villa, and finally to Suan Hongsa Villa again. When the political situation calmed down, Pra Nang Chao Suvadhana built her own villa on a land given to her by King Rama VI as a marriage present, at the intersection of Rajasima and Sukhothai Roads. It was the wish of His Majesty to build a villa for his last consort near the Vasukri Pier where the National Library currently stands, of which the plans was already drawn up and approved by the king, but it never materialised as the king passed away beforehand. Her new villa thus used that same plan.

Princess Bejaratana needed constant medical attention due to an illness. As Thailand was not so advanced in the medical fields back then, plans were made for mother and daughter to relocate to a country that had advance medical expertise. Mother and daughter first moved to Indonesia in 1937 as Prince Paribatra was living there. A few months later, they travelled to England to be near King Prajadhipok who had relinquished the throne in 1934 and had moved there. They boarded a ship to France for a stop-over, before heading to England. On 25 April 1938 the royal party and their entourage moved into Fairhill Villa in Camberly. They stayed in the UK a total of 22 years, moving to Brighton in between. The princess received her education in the UK, and was involved with the British Red Cross during the war. The royals became pillars for Thais living in the UK during the war, seeing them often and were involved in their many activities.

In 1959, mother and daughter moved back to Thailand, and moved into their new villa on Sukhumvit 38 on 4 May 1960, naming it Ruen Rudee Villa, meaning a place of happiness. Princess Bejaratana performed Royal Duties representing His Majesty the King as well as the Royal Family, often visiting rural and remote areas of Thailand, as well as continuing to promote literature works left by her father. She had brilliant commands in languages, in Thai, English and French, and was known for her natural gift of numbers. It is said that when one presented her with a date, she could tell which day of the week it was in a swift second.

The Princess Bejaratana passed away on 27 July 2011 from blood infection. She was 85 years old.

Her Highness the late Princess Sudasiri Sobha, a first cousin of the princess, once mentioned that in being born a royal, it is imperative to perform your Royal Duties until illness or death prevent you from doing so, and that a Royal always give to the people, never taking back anything in return. Princess Bejaratana has done just that, and continued to do her "job" up until when she was taken ill due to old age a few years back. Her death, at the age of 85, has left another big void in the increasing public duties needed by the Thai public. It will be difficult for younger generation of royals to live up to this regal princess, who would have expected nothing short of the best that a royal could do for the benefits of the Thai people.

Princess Bejaratana's closest relatives are those decended from King Rama V and Queen Sri Bajarindra's bloodline. Only two of King Rama VI's immediate brothers had descendents, namely Their Royal Highnesses Prince Chakrabongse and Prince Chudadhuj. Her first cousins were thus His Royal Highness Prince Chula Chakrabongse, and Their Highnesses Princess Sudasiri Sobha and Prince Varananda Dhavaj from the Royal House of Chudadhuj.

Their Majesties the King and Queen presided over the funeral rites on 28 July 2011, at the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall in the Grand Palace.

A 100-day mourning was observed by members of the Royal Family and the Royal Households.

A 15-day mourning was observed by the government and its offices.

His Majesty the King has set the Royal Cremation Ceremony to be held on 9 April 2012.

Princess Bejaratana was a high-ranking member of the Royal Family, who was born a daughter of a reigning King. With the many different kinds of Royal Funeral accorded to the different ranks of royalty, Her Royal Highness has been bestowed the highest posible honour just below that of a King or Queen. The Princess was also closed to the King, as she was looked after by the King's grandmother, Queen Savang, who helped raised her and instilled her with the proper Royal Customs.

Descendants of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and Queen Sri Bajarindra

Her Majesty Queen Sri Bajarindra, the Queen Regent, had many sons but few descendants. Her sons included 2 Kings - King Rama VI and King Rama VII. Her grandchildren were

King Rama V and the Queen Regent's current surviving great-grandchildren are:

  • Mom Rajawongse Narisa Chakrabongse, daughter of Prince Chula Chakrabongse
  • Mom Rajawongse Sunida Kitiyakara, daughter of Princess Sudasiri Sobha and HSH Mom Chao Suvinij Kitiyakara
  • Mom Rajawongse Dilok Varanand, son of Prince Varananda Dhavaj
  • Mom Rajawongse Dara Park, daughter of Prince Varananda Dhavaj

King Rama V and the Queen Regent's current surviving great-great grandchildren are

  • Suchada Bhirombhakdi, daughter of MR Sunida Kitiyakara
  • Chulachakra Chakrabongse (Hugo Levy), son of MR Narisa Chakrabongse
  • Dominic Chakrabongse Thomson, son of MR Narisa Chakrabongse
  • Mom Luang Dilok Varanand, son of MR Dilok Varanand
  • Mom Luang Katharine Varanand, daughter of MR Dilok Varanand
  • Kim Park, daughter of MR Dara Park

Interesting fact:

Pra Nang Chao Suvadhana (1905-1985) was, through her maternal grandmother, Thao Sri Sundornnath (formerly Kaew Abhayavongsa), the great niece of Khun Chom Iem Busba, wife of HM King Norodom I of Cambodia and great-grandmother of King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Princess Bejaratana and King Norodom Sihanouk are thus third cousins through their descents from Thao Sri Sundornnath and her sister Khun Chom Iem Busba.

Pra Nang Chao Suvadhana
Royal Snacks For the 100th day of mourning, His Majesty the King issued a collection of books on the compositions of His Majesty King Rama VI as well as Buddhist teachings. As per the norm of hosting a prayer session, the Royal Bureau issued snacks to the attending guests. The snacks featured here is especially made by the Royal Household at Chitralada Villa. They featured a sausage roll, a cake and milk from the Royal Projects.

Final touches of The Royal Cremation Structure for the princess were made during the first week of April 2012. The court will observe a mourning period between 8-12 April, with the actual Royal Cremation Ceremony performed on 9 April.

The Royal Cremation Structures for the Kings, Queens and Chao Fas were never the same, each having their own distinct designs. For more information, please visit the One-page Essay Collection's Royal Cremations.

(Photo from Thairath Newspaper)

Royal Cremation Structure
The invitations for the Royal Cremation Ceremony on 9 April 2012 were sent out at the beginning of April by the Royal Thai Government, together with the seating badges (yellow here for the main Royal Pavilion, but in different colours for the different pavilions), programmes, a map, and tokens for books to be printed in commemoration of the cremation, to be collected at different date periods.
Invitation to the Royal Cremation Ceremony
Only recently that invitations and passes had to be sent out, as with such ceremonies, many people wanted to attend, and could easily get themselves into one of the pavilions reserved for members of the different Royal Houses, governmental officers, diplomats and important guests. This way, it makes it harder for some to fake their way in, but I suspect that some still manages to get in. With the full-decorated uniform to be worn, members of the different Royal Houses will bring out old pins and decorations to be worn on that day. Some with illustrated ancestors will have to pick and choose which pins to wear, preferably ones that have a close link to the deceased. Pins shown above are, from the bottom moving clockwise, Prince Chudadhuj Dharadilok's portrait pin in enamel, silver and gold; Queen Sri Bajarindra's pin once part of a Royal decoration given to Luang Visal Silpakam; King Chulalongkorn's Red Cross pin once belonged to Prince Chudadhuj, and Princess Sudasiri Sobha's gold and diamond Cypher pin.
Monday 9 April 2012 - The Royal Cremation Ceremony at Sanam Luang
Morning Ceremony Moving Ceremony
The Funeral Procession from the Grand Palace to the Royal Crematorium Structure at Sanam Luang (The Royal Lawn in front of the Grand Palace).
The Urn is carried on the centuries-old Royal Palanquin, built during the reign of King Rama I.
Funeral Procession
Funeral Procession
A close up of the Urn, decorated with gold and diamonds.
The Procession turning onto Sanam Luang.
Soldiers in ancient uniforms
The Royal Urn
Soldiers dressed in ancient uniforms.
Entering the Royal Crematorium Structure.
The Royal Crematorium Structure
The Royal Crematorium Structure
Entering the Royal Crematorium Structure, a magnificent sight.
The Royal Cremation Area at Sanam Luang. The Royal Crematorium Structure is at right, and the Sala Songtham, or the Royal Pavilion, is at left.
The Cremation Area
HM the King saying farewell
View from the Royal Pavilion
HM the King and members of the Royal Family at the funeral pile, saying their farewells.
View from the Sala Songtham (The Royal Pavilion) as Royals and guests say their farewell to the princess.
Tuesday 10 April 2012

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Collecting the Royal Ashes
Merit Making Ceremony
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn attended the collection of the Royal Ashes.
HM the Queen attended the Royal Merit Making Ceremony for the Royal Ashes of Princess Bejaratana at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
Thursday 12 April 2012
Ashes at the Grand Palace
Ashes at the Royal Cemetary
Part of the Royal Ashes are interred at the Grand Palace with the ashes of past Kings and Queens and Royal Princes and Princesses of the Chao Fa rank.
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn attended the ceremony at Wat Rajbopit, to inter part of Princess Bejaratana's ashes at the mausoleum of Queen Sri Bajarindra at the Royal Cemetary.
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Since August 2011. Updated 13 April 2012.