Friday, January 11, 2008

Grief stricken crowds stream into Siriraj Hospital

Grief stricken crowds stream into Siriraj Hospital

Thousands of people flocked to Siriraj Hospital yesterday morning after learning of the death of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

Published on January 3, 2008

Many were wearing black but some still wore yellow shirts in honour of His Majesty the King. A few people appeared to be overcome with grief but most were calm.

By 10am, some 2.000 people were gathering near the portrait of the late elder sister of the King. Others removed their shoes and prostrated themselves close to the portrait in the 100 Years Pavilion in a gesture of respect. Some took photographs or offered garlands.

"I could only pray that a miracle would happen, but it didn't," said Nithiprapa Sombatrajangkoon, a middle-aged housewife who had visited the hospital many times to wish both the Princess and the King a speedy recovery. "People knew, but we wished she would have lived longer. We love her no less than the King."

Nearby was another housewife, Pirunjit Tienma-thangkoon, handing out leaflets containing a short song she wrote in praise of the Princess in the hope she would recover. The 52-year-old made 1,000 copies and kept handing them out to fellow mourners for free.

"It's like my last expression of feeling. I express this feeling with my heart," she said, encouraging those who took the song sheet to keep the good memory within them.

Both Nithiprapa and Pirunjit had never met or talked to the Princess in person, said Malee Pukmohamad, 30. But there was television, newspapers and other media.

"She's so nice and performed her duties on television like the late Princess Mother. I love them all," said Malee. "I didn't expect her to leave us so soon."

"I was shocked," Ngarmlak Hongdaeng said upon learning about the Princess's death shortly before 3am. The 43-year-old had camped out at the hospital to show moral support for the Princess, whom she described as a "very good person".

On New Year's Day, Ngarmlak went to the Princess's Le Dix Palace. "I wished for the Princess's recovery but it didn't come true," she said before bursting into tears.

Ngarmlak said her heart dropped when she saw all the high-ranking Royal Family members visiting the hospital.

"Though I wanted to see all of them. I didn't want it to happen this way," she said tearfully.

In her memory, the Princess was always by the side of HRH the Princess Sri Nagarindra the Princess Mother. "That shows how much she was grateful and dutiful to her mother," Ngarmlak added.

Lamduan Surinchai, 60, rented a room in a Bangkok apartment block for two months so that she could go to Siriraj Hospital every day.

"At first, I came to express my well wishes to His Majesty. Then, I offered moral support to his elder sister," she said, adding that like other people at the hospital, tears streamed down her face when learning about the Princess's death.

"I sympathised with her and His Majesty. Had my life been able to save her, I would have been willing to die," the Chiang Rai woman said.

Rampai Satai, 38, said she rushed to the hospital after her mother told her about the Princess's death.

"I couldn't believe it. I was speechless," she said. Rampai and her family had visited the hospital every week since His Majesty was admitted to the same hospital in October.

The Princess had been there since June.

While His Majesty recovered and left the hospital in November, he regularly visited his elder sister during the past two months.

Nanthanij Phobsit, 17, visited the hospital yesterday morning hoping to sign another well-wishing message for the Princess only to find out that she already passed away.

Pravit Rojanaphruk,

Kornwipa Kongdejsakda

The Nation

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