Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse

Somdet Chao Phraya
Sri Suriwongse
MPCh MWM PC
สมเด็จเจ้าพระยาบรมมหาศรีสุริยวงศ์
Sri Suriyawongse.JPG
Regent of Siam
In office
1868–1873
MonarchChulalongkorn (Rama V)
Preceded byPrayurawongse
Succeeded bySaovabha Phongsri
Chancellor of Defence
In office
1855–1869
MonarchMongkut (Rama IV)
Preceded byPrayurawongse
Succeeded bySurawongwaiwat
Commander of the Royal Palace Navy
In office
1851–1869
MonarchMongkut (Rama IV)
Preceded byInaugural holder
Succeeded bySurawongwaiwat
Personal details
Born(1808-12-23)December 23, 1808
Siam
DiedJanuary 19, 1883(1883-01-19) (aged 74)
Ratchaburi, Siam
NationalitySiamese
MotherThan Phuying Chan Bunnag
FatherPrayurawongse

Somdet Chaophraya Borom Maha Sri Suriwongse (Thai: สมเด็จเจ้าพระยาบรมมหาศรีสุริยวงศ์, RTGS... Si Suriwong, IPA: [som˩˩˦.det̚˨˩ t͡ɕaːw˥˩.pʰra˦˥.jaː˧ bɔː˧.rom˧ ma˦˥.haː˩˩˦ siː˩˩˦ su˨˩.ri˦˥.woŋ˧]; also spelled Suriyawong, etc; 23 December 1808 – 19 January 1883), whose personal name was Chuang Bunnag (Thai: ช่วง บุนนาค; RTGSChuang Bunnak; IPA: [t͡ɕʰua̯ŋ˥˩ bun˧.naːk̚˥˩]), was a prominent 19th century Thai figure who served as the regent during the early years of the reign of King Chulalongkorn.

A member of a family of Persian origin,[1] 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 chancellors of old Siam.

Role

Sri Suriyawongse was one of the most important figures in Mongkut's court. As he was the main supporter of Prince Mongkut to be enthroned, he eventually held the position of Samuha Kalahom. He was well known to be a pro-British official, or as a "new generation" among court officials. He was interested in Western learning in various fields such as science, engineering, and steamship building. He had a close relation with Prince Mongkut, the future Rama IV, supporting him in welcoming British influence and Western learning. He also had a positive relationship with early Protestant missionaries, whom he valued for their scientific knowledge and ability to teach English. He was a key figure in promoting the Siam-British relationship, culminating in the Bowring Treaty in 1855, cementing 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, Sri Suriwongse was named as regent, a post he held until 1873.

He died in 1883 in Ratchaburi. Sri Suriwongse was the first Thai to have a life insurance policy, after King Rama V granted foreign companies permission to introduce their insurance business to Siam.

His son Won Bunnag succeeded him as Samuha Kalahom and also held the title Chao Phraya Surawongse.