Richard A. Ruth’s In Buddha’s Company: Thai Soldiers in the Vietnam War is a fascinating study of Thailand’s involvement in Second Indochina War.
There is a good review of the book by Craig Reynolds here with a nice discussion following the book review.
One of Ruth’s arguments in the book is that the Thai monarchy willingly got Thailand involved in the war as it was in their interest to fight, and to be seen fighting, the perceived threat of communist aggression.
I was looking at Thailand Illustrated, a glossy magazine that the Thais produced to represent their nation to the world. And on the cover of an issue from 1966 I found this image.
This is the king dressed in military attire and the queen wearing a Vietnamese conical hat (nón lá). Ruth mentions in his book that the queen appeared on the cover of another magazine, Asia Magazine, the following year wearing a nón lá as well.
While the two are in full “Vietnam War mode” in this picture, it was apparently taken while they were visiting a village in Hua Hin Province while the king was enjoying his summer vacation.
I can see that they were seriously attempting to project an image, but I wonder what the villagers thought when their king and queen showed up dressed like this? I guess it was just a sign of the times. But what interesting times those were.