The three princes of Laos were three very different people. There’s a saying that the pole rarely falls far from the tree, but that is not always the case, as these three siblings showed.
Background to the three princes of Laos
When it comes to South-East Asia and the independence movements of the former French-Indochina, Laos tends to be the forgotten one. Indeed the war in Laos is referred to as the “secret war”. Vietnam got its cool movies, and Cambodia, well they got the Khmer Rouge. Laos though, had their own demons, and despite gaining independence as a Kingdom, were very much drawn into the Vietnam War.
The Three Princes was a name given to Princes Boun Oum, Souvanna Phouma and Souphanouvong. These princes were asked to form a coalition government by the King of Laos following independence. And politically they all had very different ideas. Essentially one was a communist, one was centrist and one was right-wing. The idea of the coalition was that they could unite the country, but these were turbulent times and things did not exactly work out that way.
The Three Princes
Prince Boun Oum Na Champasa – The right-wing Prince, he served numerous times as Prime-Minister. In 1960 he was involved in a right-wing coup that overthrew the government of the time. When the communists–Pathet Lao– won the civil war in 1975, he fled to exile in France. He died in 1980.
Prince Souvanna Phouma – The least interesting of the princes as he represented the neutralist faction in Laos. He served as Prime-Minister on 4 occasions and was supported by the Royal Government. He was the last PM of a non-communist Laos. He stayed in Laos after the communist victory and died in 1984.
Prince Souphanouvong – The most interesting of the bunch as he was the communist of the group! A senior figure in the Pathet Lao, following the victory he became the head of state of the country from 1975 until 1991. That meant for a brief period in 1975/1976, two communist states had “Royal” head of states. He stepped down in 1991 and died of old age in 1995. He is remembered as the Red Prince.
We are currently planning a tour to Laos for 2023, but in the meantime checkout our Cambodian Dark Tourism Tour .