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 Home > About Thailand > The Modern Monarchy > King Rama V

[ Rama V ] 1868 -1910

Also known as Phra Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua, and the eldest son of King Rama IV, he was born in Bangkok on September 20, 1853 and was crowned King on October 1, 1868, following the death of his father. The first few years of his reign were under a regency. King Chulalongkorn is perhaps the most revered of all the Chakri Kings--during his long reign of 42 years 23 days great advances were achieved for the country.

The King actively pursued a policy of "modernizing" the country and had a number of Europeans in his service to oversee such projects as the building of the first railway in Thailand. He himself made two visits to Europe, one in 1897 and another in 1907, during which he became acquainted with most of the rulers of Europe. Bonds of friendship between himself and the various European royal families were formed which exist to the present day. Not only was he the first Thai king to travel abroad [ he made several visits to the Straits Settlements, the Malay States and the Dutch East Indies ] but he also sent his sons to study in Europe [ to school in England and later for military training to Denmark, Germany and Russia ].

He successfully managed to cultivate the idea of Siam as a buffer state between the colonial possessions of the European powers in South-East Asia. The price he paid of losing certain border territories was amply rewarded, for Siam was never colonized - the only country in the region to maintain its sovereignty throughout the period of colonial expansionism. Much beloved by his people he died on October 23, 1910.

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