The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation recently presented its new book: Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, an album celebrating years of projects nurturing good relations between Thailand and Belgium and helping the society. The new statue of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Advisor of H.M. King Rama V was unveiled.
Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, Chairman, M.R. Priyanandana Rangsit, Vice Chairman, and other board members of the foundation presented the book. The luxury book of over 700 pages retraces 15 years of activities since the origins, with hundreds of pictures of many events and their distinguished guests.
An important chapter, written by M.R. Thepkamol Devakula, retraces the story of the work and achievements of Chao Phya Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns between 1892 and 1901, when he was a trusted advisor to the King and the Government of Siam, not only in the field of Law but also most other aspects related to the modernisation of the administration. Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns is the only foreigner to have been bestowed upon the title of Chao Phya in the Rattanakosin era.
Besides preserving the memory of Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, the foundation also aims at helping the society and contributing to the good relations between Thailand and Belgium. Since its creation, the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has organised many projects and activities to help disadvantaged youngsters. These projects are all detailed in the book, such as the “People of the World Ceramic Project”, done in collaboration with a French sculptor, the “Hill tribe Violin Band”, organised together with a Belgian professional violinist, or even the construction of a whole football stadium to open opportunities to youngsters in the field of sports: the Chiang Rai Hills Stadium.
The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has also organised numerous activities to contribute in strengthening the good relations between Thailand and Belgium. In this regard, the foundation has hosted members of the royal families of Thailand, Belgium, and other countries, in its events.
An important chapter of the book retraces the visit of H.R.H. Princess Maria-Esmeralda of Belgium, who came to Thailand in 2015. The Princess was invited by the foundation to participate in the Thai-Belgian Friendship Celebrations. Several events were organised, including an exhibition, which was presided over by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. A charity gala dinner was also hosted and was honoured by the presence of H.R.H. Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarithana, as well as numerous important guests of the Thai society.
The first visit of H.R.H. Princess Lea of Belgium to Thailand, in 2018, is also covered in this book. The Belgian princess was invited to attend the events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the bilateral relations. The chapter also includes countless pictures of the other activities, which the foundation organised for the Princess on that year. H.R.H. Princess Lea of Belgium made a second visit to Thailand in 2019. This time she attended the Simply Exceptional Gala Dinner, a glamorous event that celebrated Thailand, Belgium, and Lesotho, through their diamond and jewellery industries. Royals of no less than six countries, including the King and the Queen of Lesotho, as well as Princes and Princesses of Malaysia, Bhutan, and Russia, attended this event. On this occasion, M.L. Sarali Kitiyakara represented Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha. Besides the gala dinner, H.R.H. Princess Lea also visited the provinces of Chiang Rai and Nan.
One of the greatest symbols of the Thai-Belgian friendship is the friendship between the two royal families, and especially between late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and late King Baudouin of Belgium. This historical symbol is also present in the book, with articles and many pictures of the commemorative events organised by the foundation. The new book about the activities of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation is very unique in more than one aspect. It is a non-commercial commemorative luxury book, which will be distributed as a gift only. But a particularity of this edition is that over one hundred personalities of the Thai and foreign societies have contributed to its publishing, by writing short or longer texts. These include quotes, memories or feelings, but also texts about the Thai-Belgian relations or the very diverse projects of the Foundation.
All of the contributors have been part of the history of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, be it through their presence at the foundation’s events, or their direct participation in their organisation. This makes so that, as Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz likes to say, this book is “for everyone who has been part of the foundation’s story”, or for those who would like to know more about its activities.