A uniquely well preserved gold embroidered Royal robe – a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Siam to Danish Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, Vice Admiral Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu – has been brought back to Thailand by Danish Consul General Anders Normann in the hope that money can be found in Thailand to buy it back.
Anders Normann, who is also a Board member of the Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen received in March last year a call from the auction house in Copenhagen.
“They only told me they had something special that they wanted me to see,” he said. When he flew back to Copenhagen and saw the Royal robe, he was almost shocked. It was as if the golden era of Danish Thai relations suddenly became alive and present in front of his very eyes.
“It is a unique piece of art, not a standard robe in any way. It reflects the Danish Admiral’s status as Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy with special maritime symbols as well as it contains, woven in the robe, King Chulalongkorn’s Royal Cypher Medal.”
The Admiral spent the last years of his life back in Denmark, where he was in 1907 visited by His Majesty the King during his second trip to Europe.
After his death, the Vice Admiral’s youngest daughter Agnes Ingeborg or “Abi” inherited the precious robe. She kept it well and when she passed away it was passed on to her only son Allan Aage Hastrup.
The Royal robe was kept wrapped in silk paper and linen in a safety box in a bank, hence it’s mint condition. But with the passing of years, the sentimental value to the owner has of course diminished and Mr. Hastrup eventually approached Bruun Rasmussen and asked if they could find a buyer for the treasure. Preferably in Thailand, he added, but if that was not possible, then elsewhere.
Anders Normann feels strongly against the “elsewhere”-option and is working passionately to find another solution.
“It belongs here,” he states. Period.
“It could for instance be a donation to the Royal charities of an amount earmarked to purchase the robe back and then the robe could be handed over to the Navy Museum for public display,” he mentions as jujst one of many possible scenarios.
Currently, Anders Normann is planning for an occasion later in the year where the robe could be on public display, hoping this would further create an interest in Thailand for keeping this rare piece of Thai heritage from being sold abroad.
An historical article written by Usnisa Sukhsvasti was published in Bangkok Post on 8 September 2008 offering more details on the outstanding Danish Admiral and his close relationship with King Rama V. The article is available for reading here: http://mindbuddhanews.blogspot.com/2007/09/bringing-back-piece-of-thai-history.html