The Royal Thai Navy on Thursday welcomed the great-grandson of Phraya Cholayuthyothin, a Danish naval officer who was a commander of the Siamese navy during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), who also contributed to the modernisation of Siam.
Vice Adm Chartchai Thongsa-art, the navy's deputy chief-of-staff, showed Andreas Hastrup around a former royal palace established by King Taksin on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River. The palace also served as the Royal Thai Naval Academy until it was moved to its current base in Samut Prakan province.
Vice Adm Chartchai then took Mr Hastrup to visit Phra Chulachomklao Fortress in Samut Prakan, which was designed by his great-grandfather.
Phraya Cholayuthyothin, born André du Plessis de Richelieu, also known as Captain Richelieu, served in the reign of King Rama V between 1875 and 1901.
He was entrusted by the king to protect the country's interests and sovereignty during this time. As part of that, he oversaw the establishment of the Marine Corps and the Royal Siamese Navy.
During the Franco-Siamese War, he commanded Siamese gunboats against the French navy at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River on July 13, 1893.
He was promoted to vice admiral and went on to become the first and only foreign-born naval commander-in-chief of the Royal Siamese Navy between Jan 16, 1900, and Jan 29, 1901.
During his service, Phraya Cholayuthyothin also collaborated with Alfred John Loftus, a British navigator, to establish Paknam Railway Company, which was given the concession to construct and run the first railway line between Bangkok and Samut Prakan, called the "Pak Nam Route". He also oversaw the Siam Electricity Company.
Much of his work laid the foundation for the close and long-standing friendship between Thailand and Denmark.
On March 25, 2016, Mr Hastrup donated his great-grandfather's naval uniforms to the navy for display at the naval museum.