UNESCO adds two illustrious Thais to its eminent persons list

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has honored two late but legendary Thais. The body approved a resolution by UNESCO to add Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra and 19th century scholar Phraya Sisunthonwohan to its list of the world’s eminent persons for their contributions to culture and learning.

HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana was described as the hardest-working member of the royal family already beloved for its devotion to improving the lives of the Thai people. HRH was the elder sister of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great (Rama IX) and His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII).

“HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana initiated many of HRH’s own public health, social, educational, and cultural programs and activities,” according to Assumption University. HRH served as “patron of the Volunteer Doctors, the Thanyarak Breast Foundation, the Kidney Foundation of Thailand, the Foundation for Slum Child Care, and many other organizations.

HRH’s love of the arts is evident in HRH’s patronage of musical events and support of musical education. HRH also founded the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music, a unique conservatory of music with a contemporary approach to classical music.

Phraya Sisunthonwohan (1822 – 1891) was the royal title bestowed upon Noi  Acharayangkun who wrote the first textbooks on the Thai language in addition to many other works. He was ordained and lived as a Buddhist monk until he was in his thirties, after which he served in the court of His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV). He eventually became the Head of the Royal Press and the Chief of the Royal Scribes.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) later appointed him as the Head of the Palace School, which was founded to pioneer modern education in Thailand, then known as Siam. A well-known statue of Phraya Sisunthonwohan could be found in his home province of Chachoengsao province just outside of Bangkok.

Photo courtesy of https://thainews.prd.go.th/th/news/detail/