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3/20.- Bangkok, GP/throne Room

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We're in the throne room of another audience hall. The throne is of mother-of-pearl. Above it is a nine-tiered white canopy, the mark of a duly crowned king.

King Rama V was probably the greatest of the Chakri kings. Only 15 when he ascended the throne, he revolutionized his country. He ended the ancient custom of prostration and allowed officials to sit on chairs during royal audiences. He abolished slavery, founded schools and hospitals, built railroads, introduced electric lighting, encouraged the use of the automobile and modernized the army and navy. And while the Western powers were colonizing southeast Asia, he kept Siam free and independent. He would have democratized his country but his relatives didn't want to lose their social position, so he passed the idea to his son, King Rama VI, and it was fully realized with King Rama VII.

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