Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse
|Somdet Chao Phraya
MPCh MWM PC
|Regent of Siam|
|Monarch||Chulalongkorn (Rama V)|
|Succeeded by||Saovabha Phongsri|
|Chancellor of the Defence|
|Monarch||Mongkut (Rama IV)|
|Commander of the Royal Palace Navy|
|Monarch||Mongkut (Rama IV)|
|Preceded by||Inaugural holder|
December 23, 1808|
|Died||January 19, 1883
Somdet Chaophraya Borom Maha Sri Suriwongse (Thai: สมเด็จเจ้าพระยาบรมมหาศรีสุริยวงศ์; rtgs: ... Si Suriwong, also spelled Suriyawong, etc.; December 23, 1808 – January 19, 1883), whose personal name was Chuang Bunnag (Thai: ช่วง บุนนาค; rtgs: Chuang Bunnak), was a prominent 19th century Thai figure and served as the regent during the early years of the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
A member of a family originally of Persian origin, Si Suriyawongse was born the eldest son of Dis Bunnag (Prayurawongse) and Than Phuying Chan. Chuang was well educated for the time. King Mongkut made him Samuha Kalahom (สมุหกลาโหม), one of the two Ministers of old Siam.
Si Suriyawongse, was one of the most important figures in the Mongkut's court. As he was the main supporter of Prince Mongkut to be enthroned, he eventually held the position of the Chancellor, or Samuha Kralahome, or the chief of the armed forces department. He was very well known as a pro-British official, or as a 'new generation' among the court's officials. He was interested in western learning in various fields such as science, engineering and steamship building, He had a very close relation with Prince Mongkut, the future Rama IV, supporting him to welcome British influence, western learning. He also had a positive relationship with early Protestant missionaries, whom he valued for their Western scientific knowledge and ability to teach English. He was also the key figure in promoting the Siam-British relationship, culminating in the Bowring Treaty in 1855, facilitating the economic relationship with Britain.
After the death of King Mongkut in 1868, his young son Prince Chulalongkorn became the new monarch. However, as the new king was underage, Si Suriyawongse was named as regent, a post he held until 1873.
He died in 1883 in Ratchaburi. Suriyawongse was also the first Thai to have a life insurance policy, after King Rama V granted foreign companies permission to extend their insurance business into Siam.
His son Won Bunnag succeeded him as Samuha Kalahom and also held the title Chao Phraya Surawongse.
Si Suriyawongse received the following royal decorations in the Honours System of Thailand:
- Knight of the Ancient and Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems - B.E. 2412 (C.E. 1869–70)
- Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao - B.E. 2416 (C.E. 1873–74)[nb 1]
- Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant - circa B.E. 2412-16 (C.E. 1869–1974)[nb 1]
- Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand - B.E. 2419 (C.E. 1876–77)[nb 1]
- Highest rank of the order in that era.