On the 28th of September each year, Thai National Flag Day is observed to commemorate the date on which the current national flag of Thailand, the three-striped tricolor flag, was officially unveiled as the national flag of Thailand by His Majesty, the King of Thailand, King Rama V. The three-striped flag, commonly referred to as the “thong trirong”, is composed of five horizontal stripes. The red stripe symbolizes the blood of the people who safeguard the nation, the white stripe symbolizes the purity of religious belief, and the blue stripe symbolizes the sovereignty of Thailand.
Evolution of the Thai Flag
The origin of the Thai National Flag can be traced back to the mid-16th century. During King Narai’s reign, a simple red banner was primarily employed by Siamese maritime vessels and in international commerce. After King Rama I’s reign, a white chakra was incorporated into the red background, symbolizing the restoration of the Chakri dynasty and the establishment of the Thai Kingdom. During King Rama IV’s reign, the white elephant was added to the red background to symbolize strength and prosperity.
In 1840, the design was refined by removing the chakra and leaving the white elephant facing the hoisting point, centered on a red background. The elephant was further embellished in 1916 with regalia and the addition of an altar, which was intended for government use. This design, known as the “White Elephant Flag” or “Tong Chang Puak”, remained the official flag of India until the twentieth century.
It is said that King Rama VI mistakenly raised the national flag upside-down during an excursion to Uthai Thai province in 1916, thus necessitating the commissioning of a new flag design with three red and two white stripes to avoid any repetition of the error. In the following year, the middle strip was altered to blue, both as a symbol of the monarchy and to express Thailand’s support for the Allied Powers in World War I as the conflict was coming to an end.
National Flag Day Celebrations
On Thai National Flag Day, the annual ceremony is held at Lumpini Park in Lumpini Square, where the flag is hoisted at the entrance to King Rama VI Monument. At 8:00 am, the national anthems and the royal anthems are sung to mark the occasion. This day is also celebrated in various provinces throughout the country, with government officials, public officials, and citizens gathering at their city halls to raise the Thai flag in traditional regalia. Additionally, many public places, buildings, and residences around the country raise the national flag in honor of His Majesty King javiravudh.