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Tue 28 Mar 2017
Thai Flag and National Anthem
Written by Sylvia Mcnair   
Monday, 12 February 2007 00:00
In every village town in Thailand, the national flag is raised each day at 8.00 a.m. and lowered at 6.00 p.m. The national anthem is played during these ceremonies.
 
The flag has five horizontal stripes. From top to bottom, the colours are red, white, blue, white, and red. The red stripes stand for the nation and the white ones for religion. The wider blue band in the center, occupying one-third of the total area, symbolizes the monarchy. These three concepts --- nation, religion and monarchy --- unite the Thai people.

History of The Thai National Flag

When and how the first Thai flag was flown has never been determined by historians, although as in any other civilized nation flags must have been used since time immemorial. The earliest actual mention of flag raising appears in an account of events during the reign of King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya (1656-1688), but there is good reason to presume that flags had been used before this time.

Well before the reign of King Narai, for example, King Ekatotsarot, King Naresuan's younger brother and successor, despatched the first Thai embassy to the court of the Hague in 1608, thus paving the way for the arrival of European traders and missionaries in Thailand in subsequent years. It seems most probable that some kind of flag representing the Royal Kingdom of Ayutthaya was flown on this occasion, since all European nations had already evolved their own national flags by the beginning of the sixteenth century.

With the influx of European traders and vessels, coupled with the usual Chinese and Japanese merchants, Ayutthaya was turned into a cosmopolitan city, especially during the reign of King Narai. His reign has been called the golden age of Ayutthaya not only on account of the proliferation of arts and literary works but also on account of the open-door foreign policy which prevailed. It is thus not surprising that, as it is generally believed, the first Thai national flag "officially" made its appearance in 1680 when a French warship arrived at the mouth of the Chao Phya River on a good - will visit. An enquiry was made to the administration as to whether it would be acceptable for the French warship to fire gun salute as it passed theVichaiyendr Fort. King Narai graciously granted the permission and ordered Phra Saksong kram, then Governor of Bangkok, to return the gun salute. The story goes that as it was customary to raise the national flag over a fort before a gun salute was fired and as the order was given on such short notice, a piece of red cloth of appropriate rectangular shape (an item very common in a Thai home) was attached to a rope and raised to accept the French warship's salute. This, presumably, began a period in which the red flag was used as the Thai national flag. Although this may be just a speculation, it is certain that the red flag must have been a common sight long before.

According to Prince Damrong (one of King Chulalongkorn's brothers and one of the country's most renowned scholars) who conducted research into the origin of the Thai national flag, evidence clearly indicated that use of the flag could be traced to the reign of King Boromokot (1733-1758). At the request of the Ceylonese authority, a group of Thai monks led by Monk Upali went to Ceylon in 1752 to purify Singhalese Buddhism and to ordain monks. A memoir written at the time mentions that only red flags were flown on the barges used.

The red flag remained in use until the reign of King Rama II (1890-1824) of the Bangkok period. National rehabilitation and consolidation having been achieved after the sack of Ayutthaya by the Burmese army in 1767, the country now enjoyed relative peace and prosperity. Trade was almost at its height. Thai ships displaying the red flag could be seen on the high seas and in the ports of neighbouring countries, such as India, China, and Singapore. One fine day, however, a note was sent from the Singaporean authority to the effect that it could not differentiate the private merchant ships from the official ones. Could the Siamese authority issue a new flag for the official ships? The time was around 1816 - the year in which King Rama II had just acquired the third white elephant. This was an unprecedented phenomenon, heralding great and good things to come under his reign. To commemorate the event, the picture of a white elephant facing towards the hoist was placed at the center of the red flag. Thus, a new national flag was born. The Thai Elephant Flag was hoisted over official buildings and private houses, presenting a spectacular sight against the national flags of the foreign consulates whose number was on the rise.

In 1915 King Vajiravudh (Rama IV) observed during one of his boat trips up the Chao Phya River an elephant flag flown upside down over a hut. On returning to Bangkok, he began designing a simpler and modern-looking flag for the kingdom, the reason being that the flags of most European power were composed of stripes of the national colours. At the outset, he designed the five-striped red and white flag which has hoisted at the Suapa Field on the right of the Royal PLaza for a trial period. Later, the deep blue (the colour of his own birthday) was inserted. Hence the "Trairong" or tricolour, the present-day Thai national flag, came into being on September 28, 1917. It consists of five horizontal bands of, from the top, red, white, dark blue of double width, white and red. Red, white and blue signify the Thai Nation, Buddhism and the Monarchy respectively.

National Anthem:

The music of the Thai national anthem was composed in 1932 by Professor Phra Jenduriyang and its lyrics were written in 1939 by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhandi.

"Thailand is the unity of Thai blood and body.
The whole country belongs to the Thai people, maintaining thus far for the Thai.
All Thais intend to unite together.
Thais love peace but do not fear to fight.
They will never let anyone threaten their independence.
They will sacrifice every drop of their blood to contribute to the nation, will serve their country with pride and prestige full of victory.
CHAI YO. [Cheers].

Royal Anthem:

A special anthem honoring the king is played on many public occasions to express the respect and love that the Thai people have for their monarch.

"We, Your Majesty's loyal subjects,
Pay homage with deep-felt veneration,
To the supreme Protector of the Realm,
The mightiest of monarchs complete with transcendent virtues,
Under whose benevolent rule, we, Your subjects,
Receive protection and happiness,
Prosperity and peace;
And we wish that whatsoever Your Majesty may desire,
The same may be fulfilled."

Information from: Thailand Enchantment of the World by Sylvia Mcnair.