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Wan Waithayakon (also known by the unwieldy handle Krommun Naradhip Bongsprabandh) was born a Siamese prince in 1891, though I have been unable to discover who, exactly, his parents were. This is not surprising given the large families of his polygamous relatives, particularly the kings Mongkut (Rama IV) and Chulalongkorn. Even the English title "prince" carries little indication of his true rank, for Thai nobility are given different titles according to how close or distant they are from the throne; what is translated as prince might be a son of a king or a much more distant relative. No matter. He no doubt was born into a life of relative luxury and privilege.

Like many young noblemen of his generation, Wan was educated abroad, at Oxford and at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris. On his return to Siam in 1922 he worked in the Foreign Office and was an advisor to the king. In 1926 he went to Europe where he served as head of the Thai delegation to the League of Nations and as delegate to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He engaged in negotiations with the Japanese during World War II, which resulted in Japan peacefully, rather than forcibly, occupying Thailand, as Siam was then known (see Kanchanaburi for a bit more on this). In the aftermath of that disastrous choice of alliance, Wan took part in the negotiations to allow Thailand's admission to the United Nations in 1946. In 1947 he was appointed Ambassador to the United States and concurrently served as Ambassador to the United Nations. He was the Thai Foreign Minister from 1952 to 1956; he was then elected to serve for a year as President of the United Nations General Assembly, after which he once again was Foreign Minister until 1958.

Besides his formidable diplomatic career, Wan was also a preeminent philologist who translated many early Siamese inscriptions into Thai and English. He was a professor at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University. The Thai National Library houses the Naradhip Centre for Research in Social Science, which holds Wan's private collection of books. He died in 1976.

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