Did you know that King Chulalongkorn’s close friend and trusted adviser for more than 27 years, was Danish? Highlighting historical facts about the special Thai-Danish relations, the Embassy of Denmark in Bangkok elaborates:
Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu was born in 1852 in Løjt Kirkeby, in southern Jutland, and joined the Danish merchant fleet at an early age. During his time in the merchant marine, he visited Bangkok and was impressed by what he saw.
In 1875, he managed to obtain a letter of introduction from King Christian IX to the Siamese King Chulalongkorn.
King Chulalongkorn was interested in reforming and modernizing the kingdom along with modern European principles and in this enterprise, Richelieu became his main foreign adviser.
A few weeks after the introduction, Richelieu was hired by the Thai Navy and was soon given the command of one of the leading ships. In 1897, Richelieu was appointed rear-admiral and later became the only foreign-born commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy.
The close friendship between Richelieu and King Chulalongkorn resulted in a wide range of initiatives aiming at modernizing Siam. Richelieu was also instrumental in bringing Danish businessmen to Siam and in initiating many of the business ventures and infrastructure projects that became a signature of the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
After more than a quarter of a century in His Majesty’s service as a friend, adviser, confidant, and business partner, Richelieu had to resign from his positions in Siam and return to Denmark due to a severe attack of malaria.
He left in 1902 bestowed with numerous titles of nobility, medals, a lifelong pension, and a lifelong friendship with the king.