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"  As built by deities, the administrative center, dazzling palaces and temples, the capital of Thailand. " 

Key to the City of Bangkok

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       A famous Thai’s proverb says that “according to our truest Thai tradition, whoever step   through the gate would be greeted with a smile”.  This belief has been put into practice for many generations.  However, Thai people have many different ways to welcome their guests,  the reception would be based on the status of the host as well as guest.

       Regardless, the hosts would offer the best of their procession to the guests. In the rural communities, people greet and refresh their guests with drinking water, some scented with jasmine flowers. Most cities have shared in the tradition of welcoming visitors. One of the famous traditions is the presentation of the “Key to the City”.

       The tradition of presenting “Key to the City” was originated around 16th century (B.E.2000) in England. At the time, the Lord Chamberlain had responsibilities of undertaking ceremonial duties and receiving important guests of the Sovereign. The Lord Chamberlain has a white staff and a jeweled key as the symbols of this honorable position.

       When anew foreign ambassador visited London, he has to present his credential to the Lord Chamberlain who would consider it to behalf to the Sovereign and then the Lord Chamberlain would present a key to the city to the ambassadors signifying the acceptance of his stature and welcoming him to the kingdom. Hence, the tradition of city key presentation was started.

       Later in the middle age, (B.E. 2100 - 2300), most cities in Europe had built huge walls to protect the Cities. Likewise, King Rama I of Siam had ordered the building of city wall after he had moved the capital across Choa Phraya River from Thonburi to Pranakorn side. These walls, both in Europe and Thailand, had a big gate leading to the city and the gate was always closed at night of during emergency.

       The presentation of the Key to the City is a tradition presenting to dignitary guests supposing of giving a key to unlock the gate and enter the city. In reality, the presented key is not an actual key but a symbol of welcome. Many cities in civilized countries carry on the tradition to honor their visiting guests.

       In the past, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, was governed under the municipal system headed by the Mayor of Bangkok who was responsible for presenting the Key to the City to dignitary guests. Presently, the local administration system had been changed and Bangkok is administered by The Governor of Bangkok will present the Key to the City of Bangkok to the head of states who have official state visit to Bangkok. The ceremony of city key presentation will take place at Maha Jetsadabordin Pavilion, where the governor of Bangkok will deliver a welcome address and present city key as well as present a souvenir at the end of the state visit.

       The governor of Bangkok will fully dress in an official white uniform with Governor’s sash and royal decorations, a special uniform for the governor post.

       On the occasion of 6th cycle birthday of His Majesty King Bhumipol, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has ordered the Key to the City of Bangkok made of solid gold to be presented to the guests of Their Majesties King Phumipol and Queen Sirikit started form the year 2000 (B.E.2543) and then on.

       The ceremony of the presentation of the “Key to the city of Bangkok; Yet, it is deemed to be a very solemn ceremony or both the host and guests.    

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by Dr. Radut