Topic: Nicholas II
King Chulalongkorn with Tsar Nicholas II in Saint Petersburg, during the King's first Grand Tour in 1897
The Foundation Committee of the Orthodox Church in Thailand will install a monument in Bangkok to Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam. The project is in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013, for which Thailand was invited to participate. The Orthodox Church in Thailand invited the famous sculptor, Sergei Isakov - Academician of the Russian Academy Arts, Honored Artist of Russia to participate in the work on the Russian part of the sculpture. Isakov has experience of capturing the image of St. Tsar Nicholas II martyr in numerous sculptural compositions.
Sergei Mikhailovich Isakov arrived in Thailand on December 16, 2013 with the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Thailand to begin work on the monument. Work is being carried out on the territory of the new St. Nicholas Church in Bangkok.
Assistance in the construction of the monument to Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was provided by the Nicholas Foundation (Russia) and the Foundation of the Orthodox Church in Thailand. The prototype of the monument is based on the famous picture showing two monarchs during a visit by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to St. Petersburg in 1897.
Russian-Siamese Royal Relations, Late 19th Century
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, King Chulalongkorn, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Tsar Nicholas II with members of the Siamese royal entourage in Saint Petersburg, during the King's 1897 visit
In the late 1870-s King Chulalongkorn on numerous occasions expressed his wish to establish permanent diplomatic relations with Russia. Russian naval officers whose ships periodically came to Bangkok carried to the Russian Emperor the first Royal letters with clear intention of the Siamese government to develop bilateral trade, diplomatic and cultural cooperation with Russia. A real breakthrough in the bilateral relations was made later by the visit of the Heir to the Imperial throne Tsesarevich Nicholas, the son of the then reigning Emperor Alexander III, to Siam in 1891. It was a part of the Eastern Voyage of the Tsesarevich who was familiarizing himself with Asia and Asian affairs on recommendation of his farther Alexander III. Notwithstanding its unofficial status, the visit gave a great impulse to the advancement of relations between the two countries and in fact marked the beginning of close and long-lasting personal friendship between Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn, and in a broader sense between two our countries and peoples.
The Russian Crown Prince and his entourage were welcomed in Siam with all due honours and utmost warmth. King Chulalongkorn personally took care of the visiting Russian Crown Prince and awarded him with the Order of Chakri. The King hosted festivities in honour of the Tsesarevich both in Bangkok and at the Bang Pa In Palace and saw him off on the last day.
Several months later a captain of a Russian naval ship delivered a letter of gratitude from Alexander III to King Chulalongkorn together with the Order of St. Andrew bestowed by the Emperor upon the Siamese Monarch - the first in the number of Russian decorations received by members of the Thai Royal family.
The visit of Prince Damrong, brother of King Chulalongkorn and Director-General of the National Department of Education of Siam, to Russia became the next step in the development of relations between the two countries. Prince Damrong was an active participant of the process of establishment and development of the Russia-Siam relations. He came to Russia in November 1891 and was received by Alexander III in Livadia - a gorgeous Royal summer residence on the banks of the Black Sea. The Prince delivered a letter and the Order of Chakri which had been sent to the Russian Emperor by the King of Siam. In his letter King Chulalongkorn re-confirmed the intention to further develop friendly relations with Russia.
Starting from 1891, official visits and personal contacts including the exchange of correspondence between the Russian Imperial Family and the Siamese Royal Family became frequent and regular and played an important role in the development of relations between the two countries. In 1893 Russia started to provide her support to Siam to resolve the conflict with her neighbours of that time. In 1896 the Russian Imperial Government invited a Royal Siamese representative to participate in the festivities on the occasion of the coronation of Nicholas II as the Emperor of Russia.
A year later King Chulalongkorn himself paid a visit to Russia. Friendly and sincere support provided to him by the Russian Side played a very important role in the success of this trip. The highest honours, utmost hospitality and respect which had been extended to King Chulalongkorn in Russia once and for all confirmed the status of the Siamese Monarch as a sovereign equal to European Kings.
When King Chulalongkorn arrived in St. Petersburg on June 19, 1897 by the special Emperor's train, he was welcomed by the members of the Imperial Family and a military escort of the Imperial Guards. On arrival the King of Siam proceeded to the Peterhof Palace, the Imperial summer residence, where Emperor Nicholas II welcomed him. During following ten days the King of Siam visited St. Petersburg, Moscow and the main Russian naval base in Kronstadt.
King Chulalongkorn's visit prompted sincere and wide interest in Siam and Siamese affairs among Russian public. Newspapers extensively covered the visit, issuing publications about Siam and the Siamese King. For example, Vedomosti of St. Petersburg, a leading Russian newspaper wrote in an editorial: "In his person we are greeting not only one of the greatest men of our time, […] but also a true friend of Russia. The power of this friendship lies in mutual respect, in the senses of straightforwardness and simplicity common to both peoples. (…) Our friendship towards Siam is honest and non-hypocritical, which His Majesty the King of Siam can confidently rely upon".
During the negotiations in St. Petersburg Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn agreed, as it is known, to establish diplomatic relations between Russia and Siam and to prepare the Treaty on Friendship and Maritime Navigation, which was signed in 1899. The monarchs agreed also that Prince Chakrabongse, the second son of King Chulalongkorn, would come to Russia for his studying and military training. It is also worth to note that Prince Chakrabongse's studies in Russia had paved the way to other children from the Siamese noble families to Russian universities and in the first decade of the XXth century a good few of them were getting their education in Russia.
Following the decision of the two sovereigns, the exchange of diplomatic representatives took place in 1897 and 1898. Phraya Suriya Nuvat, the Siamese Minister who was representing King Chulalongkorn in Europe with residence in Paris, received an additional appointment to the Russian Imperial Court. He had accompanied the King on his Russian trip and had been introduced to Nicholas II.
In 1898 Alexander Olarovski, the Russian Consul-General in New York, was transferred to Siam and appointed as the Russian Charge d'Affaires and the Consul General. Before his departure from America, Olarovski received a ten-page instructive letter from the Russian Foreign ministry. The major part of it contained clear directions concerning the Russian policy towards Siam. The essence of that policy was expressed in the following lines of the letter: "Your conduct in its entirety should bear the imprint of favourable attention which our august Monarch is willing to extend to the person of the Siamese King, as well as to the fortunes of his people; it should respond to the sincerity and warmth which are put by Siam at the base of our relations".
The text of the letter had been personally approved by the Russian Emperor, and diplomatic representatives of Russia in Bangkok consistently followed it.
The establishment of diplomatic relations and the signing of several treaties that followed, as well as the development of regular dynastic and personal contacts, helped to promote deeper mutual knowledge between the two peoples.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Thailand. 08 February, 2014