King Chulalongkorn the Great, whose royal
name was Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua, was born in 1853. His father was
“the King” in Anna and the King of Siam. He succeeded his
father in 1868, and was crowned in 1873 after a seven year regency. He
is regarded by the people of Thailand as their greatest king. Among
his many achievements perhaps the greatest is that he was able to keep
his country independent in the face of French, British and Portuguese
colonizing in the area.
He modernized and democratized the governmental
structure, declared religious freedom, modernized the monetary and
communications systems, and generally improved the life of his people.
He is pictured on a medallion on a stamp issued in 1998
issued to commemorate the King’s first visit to Europe in 1897. The
flags on both sides of the medallion are of the nations the King
visited in 1897. In order from left to right: Italy, Switzerland,
Austria, Hungary, Monaco (the flag is upside down), Russia, Sweden,
Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain
(bandera sin escudo) and Portugal. The map in the background is based
on Mappe Monde Carte Universelle de La Terre Dressee Sur Les
Nouvelles Observations de Mrs. de L’Academie Royale de Sciences,
engraved by Pierre Bourgoin in 1770.