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King of Thailand marks bicentennial of Thai-US ties

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X) of Thailand marked the bicentennial of ties between Thailand and the United States on 20 March. The King presided over a US-hosted exhibition at the Queen Sirikit Textile Museum in the Thai capital of Bangkok.

Many of the items included in the exhibit have never before been seen by the public and are being put on display in Thailand for the very first time.

The new exhibit features 80 gifts that have been exchanged between the two countries through their heads of state and other delegations over the past 200 years. On display are gifts from the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his wife, Queen Sirikit to leaders in the United States. Additionally, gifts presented to American presidents from King Prajadhipok, King Chulalongkorn, and King Mongkut are also exhibited. Likewise, presents from American presidents to past monarchs of Thailand are on display.

Also in attendance was US Ambassador to Thailand Ambassador Glyn Davies who showed the 65-year-old King gifts in the exhibition on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, US National Archives and presidential libraries in the United States. Items are also on loan from Thailand’s National Museum Bangkok, King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Thai Film Archive and the Thai Department of Fine Arts.

Relations between the two countries began two centuries ago when Stephen Williams, a US naval captain, landed in Bangkok’s port with the aim of opening trade up between the US and Siam, Thailand was then called. After a successful mission, the two countries began trading after Williams returned to the United States with a letter stating His Majesty King Rama II’s approval of a trade agreement via the Foreign Minister of Siam, Dit Bunnag. The rest, as they say, is history.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn came to the throne upon the death of his 88-year-old father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016.

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