Friday, January 11, 2008

Pages from a life

Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana was not just the subject of books but an author and editor as well. Together these works present an engaging and intimate perspective of the royal family

Published on January 5, 2008

Pages from a life


Saeng Nueng Khue Rung Ngam (Spectrum)

Published by Thanpuying Dhasanawalaya Sornsongkram

Available at leading bookshops

Commemorating Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana's 84th birthday, "Saeng Nueng Khue Rung Ngam" ("Spectrum") examines her life and work.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was an adviser on the project and Princess Galyani's daughter, Thanpuying Dhasanawalaya Sornsongkram, the editor-in-chief.

The elder sister of both His Majesty the King and his predecessor on the throne, King Ananda, Princess Galyani always walked a step behind her little brothers, but was also often the wind beneath their wings. She is presented here in words and photos, symbolised as a colourful rainbow glimpsed through a prism.

The book reflects on seven dimensions of the Princess: simplicity, energy, courtesy, kindness, knowledge, dedication and grace.

There are rare photographs from Dhasanawalaya's private collection. She writes in the foreword that the book has been divided into two parts - "Saeng Nueng" and "Khue Rung Ngam".

The first is about Princess Galyani as the light that enabled people to see how others beautifully reflect the seven hues of the rainbow. This was her contribution to the wellbeing and prosperity of people everywhere through the projects she sponsored. There were no fewer than 63 foundations that benefited from her patronage.

The latter section is about how Princess Galyani shed light on the beloved monarch. The book is laden with quotes from her own publication, "Chao Nai Lek Lek - Yuwakasat", many of which are quite personal and heartfelt.

She shared, for example, how fond she always was of her younger brothers and remembered being so involved in their upbringing that their nanny complained to their mother - the Princess Mother.

The special-edition book from Amarin Printing and Publishing comes with a CD featuring the music of Nop Ponchamni, written, composed, arranged and produced by Boyd Kosiyabong.

Kupluthai Pungkanon, The Nation

Prince Mahidol and Art

Published by Amarin Printing

Available at leading bookshops

"Prince Mahidol and Art" was released on May 6, 1995, to mark Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana's sixth-cycle birthday, and she was herself the editor.

It evolved from a talk the Princess gave on centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla - His Royal Highness the Prince Father - called "Prince Mahidol's Interest in Art".

The book features Prince Mahidol's watercolours and ink drawings and his letters to his father, King Chulalongkorn, which indicate how interested he was in all forms of art. Art played an important part in Prince Mahidol's life between

1905 and 1914, while he was studying in England and


All of the images in the book are clearly explained, from the events and subjects the Prince described in his own handwriting to the places where he painted.

The book is in Thai and English.

Kupluthai Pungkanon, The Nation

Mae Lau Hai Fung

(Stories Told by My Mum)

By Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana

Published by Silkworm Books

Available at the Chulalongkorn University Book Centre

First published in 1980, "Mae Lau Hai Fung" has been reprinted several times. It has remained in demand because of its biographical detail about the beloved Princess Mother.

The book is divided into two sections. The first half is the Princess Mother's biography, while the second reflects on the words of some of the world's great thinkers. The author addresses her mother in common language, since there is such extensive coverage of the years before the Princess Mother became a member of the royal family.

Based on conversations HRH Princess Galyani had with her mother at various times, the book generously offers facets in the life of the Princess Mother that few of us knew, from birth through adolescence to a happy, romantic period in the United States, where she studied to become a nurse.

Among her many impressive qualities, the Princess Mother's quality and clarity of recall shines through. She was born in Nonthaburi but spent the best part of her childhood in Thonburi. She went to Satreewittaya School before attending the prestigious Siriraj Nursing College in 1913. A major transition in her life took place when she received a royal scholarship to study nursing in the US.

There she met her future husband, His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol Adulyadej of Songkhla, who was a student at Harvard Medical School.

After their daughter, Galyani Vadhana, was born, the couple had two sons, both of whom became kings.

Ultimately the book is a work celebrating the love and warmth among members of the royal family, with plenty of little-known facts about their private lives.

Manote Tripathi, The Nation

Chalerm 84 Phansa (Celebrating 84 Years of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana)

Published by Jeeranoot Bhirombhakdi

Available at Chulalongkorn University Book Centre

Also published last year to celebrate the 84th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, "Chalerm 84 Phansa" is a visual feast. It offers a collection of photographs

of the Princess that illustrate different stages in her life, from her childhood and schooling to her extensive travels at home and abroad and her support for the several charities that received her attention.

The book opens with the biography of the princess. She was born in London on May 6, 1923, and was given the name May on her birth certificate. She had an early interest in becoming a teacher, so after taking her degree in chemistry and another degree in social science and education from the Universite de Lausanne, she followed her childhood dream.

Following her return to Bangkok in 1950, the Princess became a guest lecturer in French at Chulalongkorn University, teaching conversational French as well as French culture and literature. In 1969 she joined Thammasat University's Liberal Arts Faculty as a full-time lecturer in French and head of the French Department.

As the photos reveal, the Princess must have been among the few French lecturers who could fly an aeroplane. Many images portray her training with the Royal Thai Air Force. She was allowed to fly a Tiger Moth on her own on September 11, 1957, and gradually clocked up nearly 21 hours as a solo pilot, on more than 195 flights.

It's no surprise then that, like every pilot, the Princess travelled extensively overseas, as also revealed in the lovely photos.

Manote Tripathi, The Nation

Somdej Phra Chao Pheenang Ther Chao Fa Galyani Vadhana Kromma Luang Narathiwat Rajanagarindra Kap Sunak Song Liang Wang Le Dix (Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana and Her Pet Dogs)

Published by the Faculty of Veterinary Science,

Chulalongkorn University

Available at the Chulalongkorn University Book Centre

This book was released last year to celebrate Princess Galyani Vadhana's 84th birthday. The Princess was known as a staunch patron of the discipline of veterinary science. She set up the Sibsam Fund at Chulalongkorn University's veterinary-science faculty to provide medical help to most kinds of animals.

Part of the funds helped start a veterinary clinic at Chulalongkorn that is still in operation. All these efforts came about as a result of the Princess' genuine love of animals, and the book ably captures this side of her life.

As the book reveals, she kept a lot of pet dogs at her palace. At one time she had 61, her favourite being Sibsam ("13"), after whom her fund at Chulalongkorn was named. The book is essentially an introduction to the Princess' favourite pets.

It opens with the story of Khun Sibsam, who died at age 15. She was so named because she was born on December 13, 1987. Topping Khun Sibsam's marvellous qualities was her loyalty. She accompanied the Princess on many occasions, and would never stray far from her mistress. Nor would she allow others to visit the Princess without letting them know she was on guard. Khun Sibsam was honoured with birthday parties, and a memorial ceremony to mark her passing.

There are also lovely biographical details about other dogs in the Princess' palace. The second half of the book deals with the practical details of the various diseases that afflict pet dogs, and offers tips on treatments and therapies.

Manote Tripathi, The Nation

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