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Flag of Thailand - Colors, Meaning, History

Flag of Thailand – Colors, Meaning, History

The flag of Thailand is one of the most recognizable flags of the world. But despite its popularity, many people do not know what it represents.

Each flag has a backstory, whether it be one of nationalism, pride, or aspirations for the future. So, if you want to learn more about Thailand’s flag – read on as we’ll go over the history and significance of each of Thailand’s flag colors in this post!.

What does Thailand’s flag symbolize?

Thailand’s national flag represents nation-religion-king, which is also the unofficial motto of the Thai people. The term “tricolor” or “Thong Trairong” is used locally to refer to the national flag. 

Nationalism is represented through the connection between each color and the purposes it serves.

A Quick History of Thailand’s Flag

A Quick History of Thailand's Flag
Image source: iStock

The Thai people love their flag highly. Locals observe and honor the national flag by standing still at least twice a day as part of their daily routine.

Given the significance of the Thai flag, it is only fair to be familiar with its brief history.

1. Who designed the Thailand flag?

Who designed the Thailand flag
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The earliest flag of Thailand was just red and was flown during the time when Siam was the name of the nation. This design, however, was deemed inadequate for use in international affairs. The first flag was then formally designed by King Mongkut (Rama IV) in 1855. 

It included a white elephant in the center, which has long been a royal emblem and Thailand’s national animal, on a red background. 

The current flag was established by the nation in 1917, but at that time the central stripe was also red.

According to historians, King Vajiravudh (Ram VI) saw the flag hanging upside-down after a flood and was inspired to design a new symmetrical flag to prevent this circumstance from occurring again.

In the same year, the central stripe was changed from red to blue shortly after that.

2. When was the Thailand flag designed?

When was the Thailand flag designed
Image source: iStock

Thailand’s flag underwent six significant alterations between 1809 and 1917 as the nation evolved from Siam to what it is now. 

Siam/original Thailand’s flag was a simple red field. Beginning in 1351, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya flew this flag, and beginning in 1768, the Kingdom of Thonburi flew it.

Siamoriginal Thailand's flag was a simple red field

The flag was modified to a simple red field with a white Sudarshana Chakra of Vishnu during the Rattanakosin period of Siam.

The flag was modified to a simple red field with a white Sudarshana Chakra of Vishnu during the Rattanakosin period of Siam.

A white elephant was then inserted into the white chakra in 1817. The white elephant was expanded and the chakra was removed. The Thai name for this flag is “Throng Chag,” which means “The Elephant Flag.”

Throng Chag or The Elephant Flag.

The white elephant, who now stands on a platform on the state flag, received green and red regalia in 1916. 

The white elephant, who now stands on a platform on the state flag, received green and red regalia in 1916.

Between 1916 and 1917, a new ensign was also adopted, featuring a flag with five horizontal red-white-red-white-red banding. Additionally, the current civic flag is this one.

New ensign was also adopted, featuring a flag with five horizontal red-white-red-white-red banding

By royal proclamation on September 28, 1917, Rama VI officially adopted the current Thai flag.

Thailand now has a flag that features the “colours of liberty” that are flown by Britain, France, Russia, and the United States, who are allies.

Colours of liberty

The Thai Flag and its Meaning

National pride is important to the Thai people, particularly when it comes to their country, their religious beliefs, and the monarchy itself. Thailand considered the connection between each color and the purposes it serves while designing the flag we see today.

Additionally, the straightforward style and historical relevance pay homage to the flag’s value to the populace.

The Thai people attach great significance to the depiction and symbolism in the design. We may observe the significance of history in each modification and change that has gone into creating the nation’s current flag.

So what does Thailand’s current flag’s color scheme represent?

1. What does white symbolize in Thailand’s flag?

What does white symbolize in Thailand's flag
Image source: iStock

The color white represented the purity of Buddhism, the dominant religion in the nation.

2. What does red symbolize in Thailand’s flag?

What does red symbolize in Thailand's flag
Image source: iStock

The red stripes stand for the blood shed by Thailand in its fight for independence.

3. What does blue symbolize in Thailand’s flag?

What does blue symbolize in Thailand's flag
Image source: iStock

The Thai monarchy is represented by the color blue. The blue stripe also serves as a symbol of unity and respect for Thailand’s allies from World War I, particularly Great Britain, France, the United States, and Russia, who all fly flags with the tricolor of red, white, and blue.

What are the regulations about the Thai flag?

The flag holds a special meaning for the Thai people. Locals observe and honor the national flag at least twice a day by stopping in their everyday activities.

Local Customs on Showing Respect to the Thai Flag

It is customary for Thai citizens to salute the national flag twice a day by standing upright. Every day at exactly 8:00 AM, Thai students are required to sing the national anthem while standing in front of the raised flag.

They stop moving or carrying out other activities whenever they hear the national anthem in public, especially outside, as a sign of respect.

The Thai national anthem is also played every  6:00 PM. It will be played on every TV and radio station, through government building speaker systems, on Bangkok’s sky train and underground, in bus stations, in parks, and in the majority of other public areas.

The Public Relations Department emphasized the value of treating national anthem recitation in schools as sacrosanct and used it as a metaphor for peace.

If you do not honor the monarchy and the nation by playing the national song and raising the flag, you are betraying the nation.

Disrespecting the Thai flag is prohibited. It must not be handled in a way that could harm it when displaying, using, fastening, or storing it. No one is allowed to add any words, graphics, images, marks, or insignias to the flag.

Recent Controversies Regarding the Thai Flag

On November 21, 2021, a photo of Anchilee Scott-Kemmis standing on the national flag had been released on Miss Universe Thailand’s official Facebook page, sparking a discussion about the promo image of the contestant.

Anchilee appeared in the photo posing while wearing a red jumpsuit, leaning on the blue-striped portion of what might be called a Thai flag carpet, and holding the national flag over her left shoulder.

Recent Controversies Regarding the Thai Flag
Image source: Sanook

Several internet users criticized the marketing image because they thought it was disrespectful to the Thai monarchy.

Another incident happened in terms of disrespecting the Thai flag.

In 2017, two inebriated Italian tourists were captured on CCTV ripping five Thai flags from a storefront in the tourist area of Krabi, Thailand. Later arriving Thai police detained the two inside the hotel.

The two Italian visitors, however, insisted that they were sorry and that they had misunderstood Thai culture and law regarding the national flag. 

They were intoxicated for a long time, which caused them to be confused, and they eventually managed to escape prison thanks to the “sincere” apology, but they were fined.

FAQs about Thailand’s Flag

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