HRH Princess Sudaratana
HRH Princess Sudaratana was born HSH Princess Lamom on 8 March 1818, the 26th child of HM King Nangklao (Rama III) and second child of Chao Chom Manda Thupya.
When Queen Dhepsirindra, Rama IV's Queen, died at a young age, Princess Sudaratana, who was 43 at the time, took care of King Monkut's Royal Children including HRH Prince Chulalongkorn (the future King Rama V) who was 8 years old. At that time, there were no Heirs to the Throne. Second King Pinklao was still alive. So, the princess was not burdened with the duty of educating a future king. But, when the Second King died in 1865, King Monkut was in favour of having his eldest Royal Prince succeed him as the next king. King Mongkut died not long after, in 1868, and as Prince Chulalongkorn was still too young to rule, Somdetch Chao Praya Maha Sri Suriyawongse, of the Bunnag Clan, became regent. The bringing up of the new child king was still entrusted to Princess Sudaratana. The princess was also the most senior of the female members of the Royal Family, she also became a sort of Regent in the female part of the Inner Court. (The Court in the old days was divided into 2 parts, one being the female, or the inner court, and the male only front court. She lived in the inner court section behind the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, which banned any male, not including young boys aged up to 11 years old, from entering apart from the King) She thus took great care to instill in the young King the customs and cultures of the royal court as well as that of Siam. She also took great care to make him a virtuous king who would look after his people well and just.
King Rama V greatly respected Princess Sudaratana, and treated her as his own mother, as she was the only mother that raised him. The princes died in 1896, at the age of 78. King Chulalongkorn awarded her a funeral ceremony the same as that of a queen.
She would be happy to know that the King became one that brought about the modernisation of Siam, as well as abolishing slavery in the kingdom. And, all the while, he ruled Siam fairly and greatly, and hence became known as King Chulalongkorn the Great, respected by the people of Siam until this day.
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