King Rama X coronation

By Patipat Kittichokwattana

The month of May is becoming the most auspicious occasion since it will hold two great events of Thailand and Japan monarch ascending to the throne. On the 1st of May, Crown Prince Naruhito had ascended to the Chrysanthemum throne and become the 126th emperor of Japan. His ascending will end the Heisei era and begin the new era of Reiwa. Next, the 4-6th of May is the important date to Thai people because it is an event of the King Rama X coronation ceremony. After the great King Rama IX passed away on 13 October 2016, this is the occasion that Thai people is waiting for.

Among Southeast Asian (SEA) nations, there are 4 out of 11 countries that governed by different form of monarchy system. In some country, king hold supreme powers over the country while the other is a formal position without any real power and authority. Brunei Darussalam is the only absolute monarchy country. King is the head of the state who hold highest and full executive power. Kingdom of Cambodia and Malaysia are both elective constitutional monarchy with some differences. In Cambodia, king may not father to son succession, but the Royal Throne Council will responsible for selecting the new king. While Malaysia’s king will be chosen from hereditary sultan of the 9 states every 5 years.

Thailand monarchy can be traced back 800 years ago in the time of King Sri Indraditya of Sukhothai period. After Sukhothai declined, it was continued by 417 years of Ayutthaya and brief period of Thonburi. Since 1782, Thailand has begun Rattankosin period reigned by the Chakri Dynasty until present. In 1932, importantly, Thailand was ended absolute monarchy and transformed into a constitutional monarchy. Under the constitutional monarchy system, the king acts as head of the state with limit powers and authorities prescribed in the constitution. But it did not hinder the work and achievements especially for the late king.

In the coronation ceremony, every monarchy shares similar traditions of regalia or the king’s dress and accessories. The Japan’s Imperial Regalia compose of 3 sacred items namely sword, mirror, and jewel. An ancient belief stated the Imperial Regalia were passed down from god through generations of emperor’s descendants. Mirror said to have divine power and to reveal truth. The sword represents bravery of the emperor. And jewel represents the benevolence required of an emperor. Interestingly, nobody knows when the imperial regalia were made, and it have kept secret even the emperor has never seen them[1].

According to Thai royal tradition, there are 5 royal regalia that will be represented to the king in the coronation ceremony namely crown, sword, scepter, fan and flywhisk, and slippers. The crown is the most important item among the royal regalia. When it put on the king’s head, it aims to remind heavy burdens and responsibilities. The sword represents wisdom in ruling the country and the ability to cut through problem with accuracy. The scepter represents the principles which guide to success. The fan and flywhisk are said to have the ability to repel any bad thing that might harm the king. And the slippers symbolize the people who support and protect the king[2].

Back to 1950 on the coronation ceremony of the late King Rama IX, His Majesty pledged to “reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”. It was recognized by Thai people and international organizations that 70 years reign was fulfilled this promise. Now, though the late king’s work and achievement are incomparable, but we hope that the new king determination and persistent will push Thailand to the brighter future.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47931671

[2] https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1645900/royal-regalia-items-to-be-presented-to-hm-the-king

[Photo Credit: bbc.com]

Patipat Kittichokwattana, PaddyNews writer