Monday 12 June 2006
Left: HM the Queen is seen explaining about the Royal Barge Procession to the Empress of Japan. Also in the photo is Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, Princess Mathilde of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. Above: The Crown Prince of Tonga and the Prince of Oman are both keen to see the details of the barges using binoculars, while Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is chatting with Princess Siribha.

The Royal Barge Procession in the early evening was a proper show of the ancient Thai culture. I believe that it is the first time for nearly all the Royals attending to see the Royal Barges, with the exception of the Sultan of Brunei who witnessed a show during the APEC meeting a few years back. The "show" nevertheless was a bit strange for me. I have witnessed the actual use of the Barges by His Majesty the King on one occasion for real - the 200 years celebration of Bangkok back in 1982, and one occasion on television - the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty the King in 1996. So, I always associate the use of the Royal Barges as something special, and not just a "Light and Sound Show." The first time these barges came on show was at the APEC meeting during this goverment's first term. Many Thai people travelled from all parts of the country to witness this event, and from the live television interviews, many believed that the event would be the same as the one performed by His Majesty at the Bangkok 200 years celebration and his Golden Jubilee, where His Majesty actually travels in on of the principle barges. The general public still see the Royal Barges Procession as something proper that should be highly respected and not just for show as the government seems to see it to be. Nevertheless, the barges are still a sight to be seen. People still get goosebumps from hearing the sound of the chanting. The procession was followed by a visit to an exhibition about His Majesty the King's work, which was a bit surreal, and I don't know if the visiting Royals got the whole picture. I just hope that they did, and are as proud as we are about our King's doings of the past 60 years.

The Royal Barge Sri Subanahongsa in front of the Grand Palace
The longest barge, in the middle, is the Anantanagaraj