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First Lady Hosted at Dinner by King and Queen of Thailand

May 05, 1986|BETTY CUNIBERTI | Times Staff Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand — Nancy Reagan wrapped up her one-day stay here at a dinner in her honor Sunday hosted by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit at the ornate Chakri Palace.

Mrs. Reagan made her entrance flanked by the queen on one side and a man carrying a walkie-talkie on the other. American reporters took the man to be a Thai secret service agent, but he was King Bhumibol.

The First Lady was on the third leg of a four-stop journey through the Far East, taking in cultural sights in Bali, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before arriving here Saturday. Today she will rejoin her husband in Tokyo, where he has been attending the annual economic summit.

The outside of Thailand's palace was a breathtaking sight with its three gold-covered pagoda towers. But the inside was no less impressive.

As Mrs. Reagan and the royal couple walked down the hallway known as King's Gallery, they passed imposing portraits of eight Thai kings, including King Mongkut, on whom the play "The King and I" was based. To the surprise of some of the Americans there, the portrait of King Mongkut has hair on his head.

Mrs. Reagan and the journalists who were allowed brief glimpses of the evening's events had a dress code to abide by: Women must wear dresses that completely cover their shoulders, arms and knees, shoes that cover their heels and toes, and they must wear stockings. The dress cannot be solid black or white, colors of mourning here.

Silk Chiffon Gown

The First Lady wore a silk chiffon floor-length gown that bore a yellow, red and lavender floral print, with matching stole.

The queen wore a light and dark blue silk gown with puffed sleeves, along with a three-strand pearl necklace, a large pearl ring and a diamond wristwatch. The men wore business suits.

The dinner table had four intricate flower arrangements that looked like pagodas with red, blue and white pieces of flower petals pasted onto banana leaves, much the same way tiny bits of brightly colored glass decorate the outside of the temples and buildings throughout the Grand Palace compound.

Guests at the dinner included Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Princess Soamsawali, two other princesses and other notable Thai government officials.

The dinner menu was not made available to members of the press and they were not allowed to interview guests.

Protocol Hazards

Mrs. Reagan had a staggering array of protocol hazards to avoid at the dinner. A list of "Do's and Don'ts" put out by the American Embassy here for visiting Americans included such advice as:

- When sitting, do not allow your toes to point directly at another person.

- Don't point or shake your finger at someone.

- Don't stand over a seated Thai while talking to him.

Some of the other rules that would apply outside the palace include:

- Don't, if you are a woman, touch an orange-robed monk, hand anything to a monk or let your clothes brush his robes.

- Don't sit or stand on Buddha images.

- Don't touch a Thai on the head.

- Don't, if you are a woman, object if a temple custodian bars you from an area of a temple; such areas should not be entered by women.

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