First Lady of Sri Lanka

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Spouse of the President of Sri Lanka
Residence President's House
Appointer Maithripala Sirisena
Inaugural holder Seelawathie Gopallawa
Formation April 22, 1972 (1972-04-22)

The First Lady or First Gentleman of Sri Lanka refers to the wife or husband of the President of Sri Lanka. To date, there have been six women who have been married to Sri Lankan Presidents in office and have served in the role. Sri Lanka's current First Lady is Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari, the wife of President Maithripala Sirisena, who has held the position since 2015. There have been no First Gentlemen of Sri Lanka to date. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the country's first female head of state, was a widow while in office.

In recent years the holders of the title have been formally or informally referred to by the title First Lady or First Lady of Sri Lanka, though there are no provisions for such in the constitution.

Origins

The office of the President of Sri Lanka was created in 1972 when Sri Lanka became a republic. William Gopallawa who was the Governor-General of Ceylon at the time became the country's inaugural President. His wife, Seelawathie Gopallawa, became the first wife of a President of Sri Lanka. When J. R. Jayewardene became the next president, his wife became known as Lady Elina Jayewardene during and after his presidency.[1] Thereafter, during the presidency of Ranasinghe Premadasa, his wife Madam Hema Premadasa as she was referred to, took on a very viable role and became a public figure unlike before.[2]

Wimalawathi Kumarihami, the wife of the president D. B. Wijethunge was mentioned as the first lady that the public has never seen.[3] Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga who was President from 1994 to 2005 was a widower as her husband, film star Vijaya Kumaratunga, was killed in 1987 and she was the first female President of Sri Lanka. When Mahinda Rajapaksa became president, his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa took a very viable role, expensively using the title of first lady and becoming a public her husband's presidency having her own naval aide and staff funded by the presidential secretariat. In 2015, Maithripala Sirisena took office and his wife Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari has maintained a low profile.

List

#
Image
First Lady
Birth Marriage
President
(Husband, unless noted)
Tenure began
Age at tenure start Tenure ended Length of retirement
Death Lifespan
1 Portrait of Shiranthi Rajapaksa Seelawathie Gopallawa
(née Rambukwella)
8 March 1928 William Gopallawa 1972 1978
2 Elina Jayewardene
(née Rupasinghe)
(1913-12-15)15 December 1913 28 February 1935 J. R. Jayewardene 1978 64 years, 51 days 1989 6,893 days (2007-11-17)17 November 2007 34,305 days (93 years, 337 days)
3 Hema Premadasa
(née Wickrematunge)
23 June 1964 Ranasinghe Premadasa 1989 1993
4 Wimalawathi Kumarihami Dingiri Banda Wijetunga 1993 1994
Position vacant Chandrika Kumaratunga 1994 2005
5 Portrait of Shiranthi Rajapaksa Shiranthi Rajapaksa
(née Wickramasinghe)
1983 Mahinda Rajapaksa 2005 2015
6 Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari Maithripala Sirisena 2015 Incumbent

References

  1. ^ Welilaka, Clarence (2 December 2007). "Memoirs of a just, caring and endearing personality". The Sunday Leader. 
  2. ^ "President Premadasa's death anniversary commemorated with military honours on President's directive - Azwer". Daily News. 18 May 2006. 
  3. ^ "DB's place in history". 14 February 2001. 
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