On 31 May 1880, 19-year-old Sunandha Kumariratana, queen of Thailand, was aboard a boat en route to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace when her vessel suddenly capsized, tossing the pregnant queen and her one-year-old daughter into the water. There were many onlookers, however none jumped in to lend a helping hand. At that time, touching the queen, even to save her life, was punishable by death.

Some quick-thinking bystanders threw buoyant coconuts into the water, hoping the queen could grab them to remain afloat. But she could not swim, and both queen and princess disappeared into the dark water, untouched by commoners’ hands. The following year, King Chulalongkorn, overcome with grief, erected a marble obelisk at Bang Pa-In Palace to commemorate his wife, daughter, and unborn child.