Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is also director of history at Chulachomklae Royal Military Academy in Bangkok, brought along 20 of her students in her first official visit to Cambodia.
The princess, the third child of the King and Queen of Thailand, arrived Monday for the two-day visit and said the purpose of this trip with her students was to “learn about Cambodia. We study Southeast Asian studies, including Cambodia, so we made a study tour here.”
Although it is the princess’ first official visit here, it is her third trip to Cambodia this year. In May she visited the remote Koh Ker temple in Preah Vihear province, along with other Cambodian temples and schools. In February she traveled with a 60-person entourage to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province.
Princess Sirindhorn was welcomed by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the airport, and the streets of Phnom Penh were decked out with hundreds of small Thai flags and banners welcoming the princess.
The Khmer Democratic Front of Student Intellectuals, which often protests against Thailand and Vietnam because of perceived land encroachments, used the visit as an opportunity to again demand that disputed border areas between Thailand and Cambodia be settled by an international court and that Thailand return smuggled Cambodian artifacts
Waiting on the steps of the National Museum for Princess Sirindhorn to arrive, Museum Director Khun Samen complained that at his recent meeting with Thai officials, no specific time was arranged to return 43 Cambodian artifacts now in Thailand.
“They say we must produce more evidence,” he said.
But he said it would not be appropriate to make this plea to the Princess. Instead, he led her on a tour around the museum and received about $111 and two Thai pens in return.
The entourage also visited The Mekong River Commission, the National Pediatric Hospital, the Royal Palace and a military school. The Princess will travel to Siem Reap today before returning to Bangkok.