Naphalai's Diary: September 9-15
If hobnobbing with royalty is your thing, then last week was not one you would want to miss. Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, Belgian aristocrat and chairman of the Thailand-based Chao Phya Abhai Raja Foundation, pulled out all the stops to create a gala dinner graced by a king and queen, two princesses, a grand duke and other royalty.
The Simply Exceptional Gala
Last year, he invited HRH Princess Lea of Belgium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Thai-Belgian relations with HRH Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha who sent a representative as she was unable to attend due her health. This year the Simply Exceptional gala event focused on diamonds and the countries associated with them. Attending were TM King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso from Lesotho, Princess Lea, ML Sarali Kitiyakara representing Princess Soamsawali, HIH the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia as well as HRH Princess Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck of Bhutan and Dasho Tandin Namgyel HRH Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tuanku Ja’afar of Negeri Sembilan and Tunku Nurul Hayati. Held at Siam Kempinski, the grand affair was co-hosted by Mouawad, jeweller to royalty.
In addition to songs and dances by folk troupes from Lesotho and Chiang Rai, Miss Lesotho Palesa Makara also put in an appearance. But the highlight were the diamond collections from Mouawad, introduced by the “co-guardian” brothers Fred and Pascal Mouawad. On stage, wife of the South African ambassador Carol Ingrid Doidge tried on a necklace with a stone sourced from her country, wife of the Russian ambassador Indira Tomikhin flaunted a ring of 30 carats from Russia while Avasada Sudswang, wife of the honorary consul of Lesotho, put on a necklace of diamonds from that country. This was followed by a jewellery fashion show with clothes by Tawn C.
The following night, at The Athenee was what Count Gerry called a “small” event (over 100 people isn’t actually small for a lot of people) also attended by the King and Queen of Lesotho, Princess Lea and the Grand Duke George. This was the Dragon Dinner showcasing a huge dragon created by student artist Raksit Boonark as well as the fabulous Mouawad yellow diamond collection. The dinner had an African influence and I must say I enjoyed the crocodile chilli curry—for those who would like to know, the crocodile meat tasted very much like chicken.
Princess Lea was the guest of honour at lunch and dinner every day for the rest of the week, followed by trips to Chiang Rai and Nan over the weekend. I was only able to attend one more last week, which was held at the Belgian embassy. Ambassador HE Philippe Kridelka organised a lunch reception to bestow on Ben Reymenants the Cross of the Knight in the Order of Leopold in the presence of the princess. The award was for his part in rescuing the Wild Boar footballers out of Tham Luang cave. The event was co-hosted by Belgian Karl Steppe of Blue Elephant restaurant.
Since Mouawad had brought its most spectacular diamond collection for the events, the company also presented a private viewing at Anantara Siam. I had not been able to get up close to the diamonds during the gala dinners so I stopped by to see them up close. And I must say they are really impressive: big stones of up to 30 to 50 carats set in exquisite necklaces and rings.
Harry Fane Presents Vintage Cartier
Since I was at Anantara Siam I also stopped by Lotus Arts de Vivre which was holding an exhibition of vintage Cartier watches including the Crash Masterpiece and Tank models. The Hon Harry Fane, a well-known scholar and collector of the vintage pieces was there to provide information on the pieces.
Lunch With Audemars Piguet
Another watch event was a lunch by Audemars Piguet hosted by general manager Stephanie Ng, held at Spirit by Jim Thompson. Presented were the brand’s watches for women, including the Philosophiqe model with only the hour hand. According to Ng, a woman doesn’t need a watch with a minute hand as she dictates her own time. Also at the lunch was Malika Schupbach, a female watchmaker specialising in restoration who flew in for the event.
Vegan Afternoon Tea At The Mandarin Oriental
And finally, with the Vegetarian Festival coming up in October, Mandarin Oriental created its first-ever vegan and gluten-free afternoon tea. We enjoyed a sneak preview of sweet and savoury treats by executive pastry chef Pablo Gicquel joined by the hotel’s nutritionist consultant Dr Priya Khorana. The tea set is available from now through the entire month of October.
Previously: Naphalai's Diary: September 2-8