Prince Petcharath Ratanavongsa
Prince Petcharath Ratanavongsa (1890-1959) holds a special place in Lao History as the only viceroy of the Kingdom of Laos and had a tenure as prime minister from 1942 to 1945. His tenure as Prime Minister of Laos was during World War 2 both under French protectorate & Japanese occupation.
During the wartime years he was prime minister and Viceroy of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang, which was first loosely under Vichy French control and them briefly “independent” under the Japanese.
Post the Japanese occupation, Prince Petcharath was in favor of an independent Laos which was to the contrary to the King’s sentiments which was in favor of the French Protectorate. In 1946, he became the leader of the Lao resistance movement that sought to suppress the country’s return under the tutelage of French colonials in favor of a free Laos. The difference in opinion led Prince Petcharath to leave the country for Thailand and spend eleven years in exile. During his absence, saw both his younger brothers Prince Souvanna Phouma and Souphananoubvong enter politics, Prince Petcharath returned to Laos in 1956 to resolve tensions between his two brothers as a mediator. He later passed away at his birthplace of Luang Prabang in 1959.To Lao people, Prince Phethsarath represented both continuity with the pre-colonial past and the hope of a new, p0st colonial future, he was both a traditionalist, by culture and by his affinity with the Lao people among whom he was so popular), and a modernist, determined to forge a new Lao unity where a history of kingdoms and principalities had existed before. He was both an aristocrat, a member of a powerful vice regal family, and a democrat. His life is indelibly imprinted into the modern history of Laos. Many Lao hang his picture in their homesPrince Pethsarath’s popularity to the Lao people is in regards to its countries pre-colonial culture and independence; he was both a traditionalist with an affinity for Lao culture and its people but also a visionary; his life and legacy is indelibly imprinted into modern history of Laos. To this day, many Lao hang his picture in their home
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