Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Grand Palace

In the same complex with the Wat Phra Keaw is the Grand Palace.  The beautiful palace was built, in part, to show the legitimacy of the Thai kingdom. In an era when European powers were conquering and colonizing the "backward" southeast Asian peoples, the king of Siam reacted not by fighting, but by setting out to show that his kingdom was not backward and uncivilized.  He adopted many Victorian customs and fashions, and worked to show western leaders that he was an educated equal.  He hired tutors to teach his children English and European customs so that they could be diplomatic with the new powers in the region.  You might have seen the fictionalized version in the movie The King and I
I suppose it worked; Thailand is the only southeast Asian country that was never colonized by any foreign power, which they are quite proud of.
The palace was beautiful and the weather perfect; there's not much else to say about it since the inside is not open to visitors.  It's still used for coronations and some other state ceremonies, but the royal family have long since moved to a modern palace in a quieter area in the north part of the city. 

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