Sisavang Vatthana Biography
Sisavang Vatthana was born in the Kingdom of Laos, and of five siblings, he was the second eldest. At the age of ten, this young prince was sent to France to pursue his education. He graduated in Paris, learning subjects like diplomacy and history, and on his return, he was taught his native language at home, by private tutors. At a young age he started representing his kingdom and met the Japanese forces to persuade them to grant his nation its freedom. He was soon appointed the Prime Minister, becoming the king after his father's death. However, he was forced to abdicate before he could officially be crowned the King of Laos. Nevertheless, according to sources, he was a king who took interest in the welfare of his nation, visiting foreign countries to improve diplomatic relationships, and establish the kingdom's political neutrality. During his reign, a coalition government was formed between three princes, the royalist Boun Oum, the leftist Souphanouvong, and the neutralist Souvanna Phouma. Though this was a move to establish political unity in the country, the government did not last long. Soon, the leftist faction separated, took over the kingdom and abolished the monarchical rule. The King was not only forced to give up his throne, but was also imprisoned till his death in the internment camp
- Sisavang Vatthana was born to King Sisavang Vong and Queen Kham-Oun I, on November 13, 1907, in the Kingdom of Laos, at the Royal Palace of Luang Prabang. He had four siblings, Princess Khampheng, Princess Sammathi, Prince Souphantharangsri, and Prince Sayasack.
- The young prince, attended elementary school at Montpellier in France, and then graduated from the 'École Libre des Sciences Politiques' in Paris, studying subjects like history, diplomacy and science. After completing his education, he returned to Laos, but had to be taught his native tongue all over again, since he had forgotten how to speak it.
- When the World War II took place, Sisavang was sent to Saigon, Japan, where he vehemently condemned their invasion of Laos and urged them to grant his Kingdom freedom from France.
- In 1951, Vatthana was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Laos, serving in the capacity till his father fell ill, and the Prince was appointed as the acting head-of-state.
- After his father's death in 1959, he became the King, though he was never formally coronated. During his rule, he travelled to several foreign nations, as the ambassador of Laos.
- In 1961, Prince Boun Oum, belonging to the Champassak province of Laos, was elected the Prime minister by the 'National Assembly' members. However, King Vatthana urged the three Princes Oum, Souphanouvong and Souvanna Phouma to establish a coalition government.
- The three princes were figureheads of the royalist, leftist and neutralist lobbies of the Kingdom, and the coalition was formed the following year in 1962.
- Sisavang met President John F. Kennedy of the United States in March 1963, as a part of a trip to sign the 'Geneva Pact'. He had also visited Moscow, along with Prince Souvanna Phouma, his Prime Minister.
- In 1964, several uprisings took place and the coalition government formed between the three princes fell apart. The communist organization 'Pathet Lao' separated from the government, and the right-wing and neutralist lobbies were left together.
- The leftist 'Pathet Lao' no longer wanted to form any coalition government, and thus started the 'Laotian Civil War'.
- During the long-drawn civil war, the 'Pathet Lao' captured all the cities of Laos one by one, eventually seizing the last town of Vientiane in 1975. The government of Vientiane, headed by Prince Souvanna Phouma was dismissed.
- The King of Laos, Sisavang was forced to give up his throne on December 2, after the triumphant 'Pathet Lao' government abolished the system of monarchy. The King was reduced to being the 'Supreme Advisor to the President', a position that did not have any importance.
- The deposed King did not wish to go into exile, and thus shifted to a smaller house. He surrendered his palace to the government, after which his royal residence was converted into a museum.
- The communist government could not rest in peace, assuming that the King might lead a revolt. Thus, the King, along with his wife, children, and brothers, were arrested and deported to the Viengxai district of North-eastern Laos.
- The royal family was confined to a prison camp in Xam Neua, the capital city of Laos' Houaphan Province. The place, known as 'Camp Number One' was meant for distinguished political prisoners, and the royal family was often visited by other relatives. The King of Laos remained in confinement till his death.
- The last King of Laos is famous for having served as an international diplomat for his country, seeing to it that the nation received its independence from Japan and France.
- Sisavang got married to Queen Khamphoui on August 7, 1930, and the couple had five children.
- His son, crown prince Vong Savang, was captured by the communist government along with his parents. Prince Sauryavong Savang escaped the arrest by swimming to Thailand, via the Mekong River.
- Princess Savivanh Savang Manivong, her daughter, took refuge in France during the imprisonment of her family. Nothing much is known about the other children, Prince Sisavang Savang, and Princess Thala Savang.
- With regards to the death of the last King of Laos, there has been a lot of speculation. Some reports suggest that the King succumbed to malaria in 1978, along with the Queen and the Crown Prince.
- Other reports say that he died two years later, while former President of the country, Kaysone Phomvihane maintains that the King lived till the age of seventy-seven.
- This King of Laos was named Samdach Brhat Chao Mavattaha Sri Vitha Lan Xang Hom Khao Phra Rajanachakra Lao Parama Sidha Khattiya Suriya Varman Brhat Maha Sri Savangsa Vadhana, at birth
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