Queen Sirikit, the Mother of all Thai People

Thailand - Scott #2705i (2012)
Thailand – Scott #2705i (2012)

Her Majesty Queen Mother Sirikit of Thailand (สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถ,  Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat) celebrates her 85th birthday today, having been born on August 12, 1932, in the Pathum Wan (ปทุมวัน) District of Bangkok. First declared by the Thai government in 1976, the official name of the holiday celebrating the Queen’s birthday is Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borom Rachininat Nai Ratchakan Thi Kao (วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษาสมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถในรัชกาลที่ ๙). August 12 is also designated in Thailand as National Mother’s Day (วันแม่แห่งชาติ, Wan Mae Haeng Chat).

Sirikit was given the title of Queen Regent on November 5, 1956, usually mentioned in official documents as Chom Phon Ying Chom Phon Ruea Ying Chom Phon Akat Ying Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat (จอมพลหญิง จอมพลเรือหญิง จอมพลอากาศหญิง สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถ, “Her Majesty Queen Regent Sirikit, the Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet, and Marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force”). Following the death of her husband, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13, 2016, she had held the title of Her Majesty The Queen Mother. To read more about her life and titles, please see my Thai Mother’s Day articles for 2016 and 2017.

Queen Sirikit of Thailand during a visit to New York City on July 7, 1960, A ticker-tape parade was given in honor of her and King Bhumibol Adulyadej on that date. Photo taken by Phil Stanziola, New York World Telegram staff photographer. From the Library of Congress New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection.
Queen Sirikit of Thailand during a visit to New York City on July 7, 1960, A ticker-tape parade was given in honor of her and King Bhumibol Adulyadej on that date. Photo taken by Phil Stanziola, New York World Telegram staff photographer. From the Library of Congress New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection.

One of the Mother’s Day traditions in Thailand is to wear light blue to honor Her Majesty’s birthday. Government workers, police and military are required to wear the royal attire, but the government also would like the general public to follow suit throughout the month of August. Businesses, government agencies and schools throughout the nation are decorated with blue and white bunting.  The public and private sectors and all civilians are requested to decorate their buildings and homes with Queen Sirikit’s photo, Thai national flags, and flags with Sor Kor (ส. ก.). This is the Royal Flag of Queen Sikit, depicting the Royal Cypher surmounted by the Crown of Victory on a field of blue, the color of Her Majesty’s birthday — Friday. Blessing books are also set up in shopping centers and other public places for people to sign with birthday greetings to the Queen Mother.

Here in Phuket, Governor Norraphat Plodthong led an early morning ceremony at Phuket Provincial Hall on August 6 to honor the Queen Mother. The event was attended by Phuket Vice Governors Snith Sriwihok, Thawornwat Kongkaew and Prakorb Wongmaneerung, the heads of government offices in Phuket, as well as judges, senior ranking members of the military in Phuket, top-ranking police commanders and key officials from other agencies, all of whom signed books of birthday wishes. The commemoration books will remain at Provincial Hall through today for people to sign theirs blessings.

Honoring the image of the Queen Mother on Thai Mother's Day
Honoring the image of the Queen Mother on Thai Mother’s Day

At 7:00 this morning, official celebrations will begin with a merit-making ceremony to 87 monks and novices at the 72nd Anniversary Commemoration of Queen Sirikij Public Park, just down the road from my home. At Phuket Rajabhat University, there will be the signing of a book of commemorations at 8:50 a.m. and at 5:00 p.m. there will be ceremonies and the lighting of candles in front of the image of the Queen Mother to pay respects to the revered figure.

Government officials attending ceremonies must wear their white uniforms, while the general public is asked to wear light blue. Women may dress in traditional Thai costume, and students and members of private organizations may wear the uniforms of the organizations or institutions they represent.

“For this auspicious occasion, Phuket also invites people to wear blue or traditional Thai dress throughout August and join to sing to praise the King’s mother to express the loyalty in the coming event,” noted a press release from the Phuket office of the Pubic Relations Department.

As for myself, I managed to have a four-day holiday as my students cancelled their lessons for Friday, Saturday and Monday and my language school is closed this Sunday (which is my usual weekly day off anyway). I’m spending the holiday cataloguing and inventorying stamps as well as designing a few for my long-dormant local post.

Thailand - Scott #2705 (2012) miniature sheet of 9
Thailand – Scott #2705 (2012) miniature sheet of 9

Scott #2705i was released on August 12, 2012, to commemorate Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday in a miniature sheet of nine stamps (Scott #2705). The 40-baht stamp depicts a left-facing profile of Queen Sirikit wearing a tiara, embossed and printed with a pearl-effect ink. The inscriptions on this stamp  in 22-karat gold, added using a hot foil stamping and embossing method. The other eight stamps in the sheet were each denominated 5 baht, portraying images of Queen, Sirikit advancing in age ten years apart (Scott #2705a-2705h).  These were printed using offset lithography, perforated 13. Additionally, the eight 5-baht stamps were released in souvenir sheets of four both perforated and imperforate. The set was designed by Mrs. Veena Chantanatat of the Communications Authority of Thailand with 700,000 pieces of each design printed by Thai British Security Printing Public Company Limited, Thailand.

Thailand - Thailand Post #TH2018-1154ST (2018), currently
Thailand – Thailand Post #TH2018-1154ST (2018), currently “postponed”

A single stamp is due to be released this year for Her Majesty the Queen Mother with the Thailand Post issue number of TH-1154. The design for the 9-baht stamp was revealed in mid-July (at the same time as the design for the July 28th birthday of King Maha Vajiralongkhorn) but is now listed on new issue sites as “postponed”. This year has been more confusing than others in recent memory with the long-awaited first series of King Rama X definitive stamps delayed from April until the end of July, a completely unannounced World Football Cup issue suddenly appearing in post offices in mid-July and no announcements as to the second half of the year’s issues until the second week of August, AFTER several had already been sent to just a few post offices in Bangkok.

Flag of Thailand, 1917-date
Royal Flag of Queen Sirikit
Royal Flag of Queen Sirikit
Queen Sirikit signature
Queen Sirikit signature

 

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