Country says goodbye to princess

A photo of the Royal Chariot taken during a rehearsal. CHANAT KAYANYU

By Terry Fredrickson

The funeral proceedings to bid farewell to HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda have begun with thousands taking part.

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Nation bids farewell to princess

Usnisa Sukhsvasti

Thailand bids farewell to HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda today, with three processions to escort her royal urn from Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall to the cremation pyre at Sanam Luang.

A cast of thousands in full uniform will be in formation along the surrounding streets as Princess Bejaratana makes her final journey.

The princess passed away from septicemia on July 27, 2011, aged 85.

The royal cremation site of Her Royal Highness Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda glitters ahead of the ceremonial cremation, which will be presided over by Their Majesties the King and the Queen at 4.30pm today. PATIPAT JANTHONG

The day will begin at 7am when the royal urn is carried from Dusit Maha Prasart Hall atop the royal golden palanquin to an area in front of Wat Phra Chetupon, or Wat Pho.

There, the urn will be transferred to the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot, or royal chariot, for the one-and-a-half-hour procession to Sanam Luang.

The chariot was built from gilded teak wood during the reign of King Rama I, and was used for the funeral of Her Royal Highness The Princess Mother and Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana. It weighs around 13 tonnes and requires 216 men to pull.

The chariot will set off along Sanam Chai Road towards Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

When it arrives at Sanam Luang, the urn will be returned to the palanquin for the third and final procession.

The palanquin will circumnavigate the phra meru, or royal funeral pyre, three times, with each lap covering 260 metres, before the urn is placed on the pyre.

Members of the public wishing to pay their respects may leave paper and sandalwood flowers for the cremation at 4pm at five points around Sanam Luang and at 46 temples in Bangkok.

A daytime view of the cremation site. APICHART JINAKUL

The ceremonial cremation will go ahead at 4:30pm, followed by the more private official cremation at 10pm and a programme of cultural events for the public through the night.

The funeral is the culmination of about eight months of work by the Fine Arts Department and Religious Affairs Department, which allocated a budget of 218.1 million baht for the preparations and ceremony.

Princess Bejaratana was the only child of King Vajiravudh, Rama VI, and Phra Nang Chao (Queen) Suvadhana.

Her royal father, seriously ill at the time, passed away just one day after the princess was born, and it was her grandmother, Queen Savang Vadhana, who took the baby princess under her wing.

The princess spent much of her formative years in the United Kingdom after the 1932 revolution which toppled the absolute monarchy and led to the abdication of her uncle, King Prajadhipok. By the time she returned to Thailand in 1959, her cousin, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was on the throne.

She spent the rest of her life at Ruenrudi Villa, working on behalf of various charitable organisations and projects that were established and initiated by her royal father as well as her grandmother, Queen Savang Vadhana, with her mother constantly by her side.

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    cremation – the burning of a dead body การเผาศพ (งานพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพ)
    glitter – to shine with a lot of small bright flashes of light พร่างพราย
    bid farewell – to say goodbye ล่ำลา, กล่าวลา, ลาจาก
    procession – a line of people or vehicles moving in a slow and formal way as part of an event ขบวน
    escort – to go with a person นำไป
    urn – a container for the body/ashes of a dead person พระโกศ
    pyre – (in Thailand) a temporary wooden structure for use during a cremation ceremony, especially for a member of the royal family; a pile of wood used for burning a dead body during a funeral ceremony โครงไม้ที่ใช้สร้างพลับพลาพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพ
    cast – the people who take part in a performance or an big event คนแสดง
    formation – a particular arrangement or pattern ขบวน,แถว
    surrounding – all around a place บริเวณรอบๆ
    pass away – to die จากไป
    septicemia (also septicaemia)– infection of the blood by harmful bacteria ภาวะเลือดเป็นพิษ
    Dusit Maha Prasart Hall – built by Rama I in 1790, it is where the remains of members of the Royal Family are kept prior to their funeral พระที่นั่งดุสิตมหาปราสาท
    palanquin –a covered seat carried on poles held parallel to the ground on the shoulders of people, used in Thai royal funerals เสลี่ยง, พระเสลี่ยง
    transfer – to move someone or something from one place, vehicle, person or group to another ย้าย
    chariot – a vehicle with two wheels and no roof that was pulled by horses in races and battles in ancient times, in this case, a royal funeral vehicle carrying the royal urn and pulled to the cremation site ราชรถ, พระมหาพิชัยราชรถ
    gilded – covered with a very thin layer of gold ซึ่งเคลือบทอง
    teak – a large tree with hard yellow-brown wood and white flowers ต้นสัก, ไม้สัก
    reign – a period of time during when a king or queen rules a country ช่วงเวลาครองราชย์
    funeral – a ceremony that takes place after someone dies, usually including a religious ceremony, in this case, a royal funeral งานศพ งานพระราชพิธีพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพ
    set off – to leave a place and begin a journey เริ่มเดินทาง
    circumnavigate – to go completely around something เคลื่อนไปรอบๆ
    lap – one time around a place รอบ
    pay respect to – to show deep admiration for someone แสดงความเคารพ
    culmination – the final result of a process or situation ผลสุดท้าย
    allocate – to officially give something to someone จัดสรร, จัดแบ่ง
    budget – an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ
    take under your wing – to take care of and help somebody who has less experience of something than you ดูแลและช่วยคนที่มีประสบการณ์น้อย
    formative years – a period of time in the life of a person, especially while young, which has an important and lasting influence on the development their character
    revolution – a situation when people completely change their political system or government, often by force การปฏิรูป
    topple – to cause to fall คว่ำลงมา
    absolute monarchy – a system in which a king or queen has unlimited powers ระบอบสมบูรณาญาสิทธิราช
    abdication – the process of giving up the position of being king or queen การสละราชสมบัติ
    on the throne – having the position of being the King
    charitable – involving giving money or help to people who are poor or ill, or who need advice and support การกุศล
    establish – to start a company, organisation, fund, etc. that will likely continue for a long time สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง
    initiate – to make something start ริเริ่ม
    constantly – continuously; all the time อย่างต่อเนื่อง