- This article is about the Thai princess. For the road see Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit (20 November 1920–16 February 1977, Thai: พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าวิภาวดีรังสิต; RTGS: Wiphawadi Rangsit) was a member of the Thai royal family well known for her fiction writing and her developmental work in rural Thailand. She was killed by communist insurgents while on a routine visit to assist rural villagers in Surat Thani Province.
Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit was born Mom Chao (Her Serene Highness) Vibhavadi Rajani. The daughter of Prince (Krom Muen) Bidyalongkorn and Mom Chao Pornpimolpan Rajani (Voravarn), she had a younger brother, Prince Bhisatej Rajani. The Princess was educated at the Mater Dei School, Bangkok. After completing her secondary education, she worked as a secretary for her father, who at the time was one of the most respected poets of the Rattanakosin era and wrote under the pseudonym “Nor. Mor. Sor.” (NMS). Princess Vibhavadi inherited her father’s gift for writing and displayed her ability as early as age of fourteen, when she began writing children's novels. She was well known by her pen-name V. na Pramuanmarg (Thai: ว. ณ ประมวญมารค). Her famous first novel, “Prisana”, was written when she was eighteen and was followed by two sequels and many other novels, some of them historical.
Vibhavadi Rangsit had two daughters. In addition to a full writing career, the Princess worked for King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand. In 1957, she began accompanying them when they toured the country and was appointed a lady-in-waiting to the Queen when they went on their first state visit abroad in 1960. Princess Vibhavadi accompanied them on seven occasions, visiting twenty-five countries.
The last ten years of her life were dedicated to rural development in Southern Thailand under the direction and sponsorship of the King. Her involvement began when the monarch asked her to go to a remote area called Phrasaeng in Surat Thani Province. From that initial visit in 1967, she was committed to the development of neglected areas and the improvement of the villagers' living standards. Sponsored by the king, she led a medical team on many missions to distribute medical supplies, schooling equipment, blankets and other necessities to villagers in remote and almost inaccessible parts of the South.
Princess Vibavadi often visited soldiers and Border Patrol police stationed in areas where there was communist insurgency. On the morning of February 16, 1977, she set off on what should have been a routine visit to villages and to boost the morale of troops at Wiang Sa district in Surat Thani. While flying to her destination in an army helicopter, she heard a radio message saying two Border Patrol policeman had been wounded by a landmine. She immediately ordered the flight diverted to pick up the wounded men and rush them to a hospital. As they flew at low altitude over Ban Nua Khlong, the helicopter was attacked from the ground by communist insurgents. A burst of heavy machine gun fire crippled the helicopter and seriously wounded the Princess; she died one hour later.
Prior to her royally sponsored cremation at Ratchabophit temple, on April 4, 1977, in recognition of her services to the country and the people, the King elevated her to the higher royal rank of Phra Chao Worawongse Ther Phra Ong Chao (Her Royal Highness) and awarded her the highest level of the most Illustrious Order of the House of Chakri[disambiguation needed].
February 16 is now known in Surat Thani as Vibhavadi Day, and civil and religious ceremonies are held in her honour. Vibhavadi Rangsit Highway, which connects Don Muang Airport with Bangkok, was named for the beloved Princess.
Her husband, Prince Piya Rangsit, founded the Vibhavadi Rangsit Foundation to ensure the continuity of her charitable work in the southern provinces.
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