Katya and the Prince of Siam

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

by Narisa Chakrabongse and Eileen Hunter.

River Books, 2020, 252 pages. www.riverbooksbk.com

The most bittersweet tales of love in Thai history are most likely when a member of the Thai royalty marries a ‘farang’ (or foreigner). It has happened only rarely, but it is always mesmerising to the public when it does happen. The first and perhaps the most famous incident was when King Chulalongkorn’s (King Rama V) favourite son, HRH Prince Chakrabongse, secretly web a beautiful Ukrainian girl and brought her back to meet his family in 1907. You can imagine the reception on arrival.

At first, they were ostracised by their family and society, but gradually they were accepted by everyone with love and respect. Tragically, the love story has an ultimately sad ending for almost everyone involved. However, Narisa Chakrabongse and Eileen Hunter have done a masterful job on recreating the world her grandparents lived in, much of it through previously unpublished letters, photographs, and diaries. The book is a fascinating journey into both Thailand’s and personal family history. For Thai history lovers. 5 stars.

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