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Royal Moments from Down Under

On 15 February 2021, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana graciously accepted to preside over the première viewing of the documentary commemorating “His Majesty the King’s time in Australia” at His Excellency Allan McKinnon, the Australian Ambassador’s residence. The 18-minute documentary, completed in 2020 by the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, honors His Majesty the King and his time spent in Australia during 1970 to 1976. The documentary, which used footages from the National Archives of Australia, highlights the unique bonds between the two countries.  

Thailand and Australia established diplomatic relations in 1952. Throughout the years, regular visits to Australia by the Thai Royal Family have been instrumental in fostering friendship, trust and understanding between the two countries. In 1962, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother, became the first Non-British Royals to visit Australia. This special ties was further strengthened when His Majesty the King (then titled Crown Prince) joined Kings’ College, Sydney, Australia’s oldest private school in 1970 and, subsequently, the Royal Military College, Duntroon where he spent four years of military education and training until 1976.

Collaboration between Thai and Australian Armed Forces has subsequently been enhanced for the mutual benefit of both countries as well as regional stability. Through the Defence Cooperation Program, a number of scholarships have been offered to Thai personnel every year for full-time studies and short-course trainings at the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Royal Military College Duntroon and other institutions. Likewise, military personnel from Australia has also taken part in military training programs in Thailand. Based on shared interests in addressing modern regional and global security challenges, Thailand and Australia have expanded security cooperation to include non-traditional security areas, such as law enforcement, cyber affairs, counter-terrorism as well as human security issues, including human trafficking, child exploitation and drug trafficking.   

 

Both Thailand and Australia have also benefited from their close socio-economic cooperation. Trade and investment remain dynamic with vast opportunities for both sides to further explore. Since the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2005, two-way trade expanded three folds. Thailand and Australia regard each other as an important trading partner with an annual trade volume of 15,000 million USD. In addition, extensive people-to-people and education links have flourished. Thai students have long viewed Australia as a quality education destination with memorable life experiences. Australia views Thailand as a popular travel destination. Before COVID-19 outbreak, about 100,000 Thai tourists visited Australia while more than 800,000 Australians visited Thailand each year.

 

In 2021, Thailand and Australia under the Strategic Partnership are working together to foster greater collaboration in myriad areas, such as public health, digital economy, education, security, and agriculture to support post COVID-19 social and economic recovery. Both countries are also committed to intensifying cooperation within regional and multilateral frameworks particularly in regional development areas for inclusive and long-term sustainable growth. Next year, Thailand and Australia will mark 70 years of diplomatic relations and will continue to embark on the journey of friendship and cooperation for the benefit of the two countries and the region.

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