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Historical Flags (Thailand)

Siam (up to 26th June 1939)

Last modified: 2005-12-03 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: thailand | siam | historical | regent | prime minister | governor | elephant | chakra | stripes: 5 | kojasri | mythical creature | rajasri | lion | crown: thai | coat of arms | garuda (red) |
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A flag book that I bought in Thailand, entitled "The History of Thai flags" (issued by The Fine Arts Department of Thailand in 1977), says:

(1) Plain red flag becomes a national flag on Sep 3rd 1680
(2) Rama I added a white chakra in the center in 1782
(3) Rama II further added a hoist-facing white elephant in the chakra in 1817
(4) Rama IV removed the chakra and enlarged the elephant in 1855
(5) Rama VI put a pedestal beneath an elephant and ornaments on the elephant on Nov 2nd 1916
(6) Rama VI changed national flag to five equal r/w/r/w/r horizontal stripes in early 1917
(7) central red stripe was replaced by blue on Sep 28th 1917

I have three different Thai flag books and all show equal stripes as a national flag. 1:1:2:1:1 flag was adopted by Rama VI by Decree No 129 in 1911 as a merchant flag. Most of European flag books reported the flag wrongly.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 23 July 2004

Regent 1936

[Regent 1936 (Thailand)] 1:1
The blue border matches the original source's background and is not part of the flag
from the Singha Beer source

From the Singha Beer source:

The Regent's Flag
This is a square white flag. In the middle stands a coat of arms with a yellow stripe measuring one-tenth the width of the flag.

The coat of arms itself consists of the colours of the "Trairanga", though the stripes are at an angle at the centre of the escutcheon. Above the coat of arms hovers a red garuda. The flag was only used to denote the presence of the Regent on official duty. It was first used in B.E.2479 [1936 AD].

This appears in Flaggenbuch 1939 as Regentschaftsrat or "Regency Council" and having a 1:1 ratio. The garuda is shown completely red, including talons etc.

Santiago Dotor, 5 November 1999

Prime Minister 1939-1979

[Prime Minister 1939-1979 (Thailand)] 5:6
The blue border matches the original source's background and is not part of the flag
from the Singha Beer source

From the Singha Beer source:

The Prime Minister's Flag (B.E.2482) [1939 AD]
This is a white square, flag with a base measuring five-sixths of its length. In the middle stands the official state seal of the Prime Minister flanked by two creatures from Thai mythology — the "Kojasri" (a lion with an elephant's trunk) to the right, and the "Rajasri" (Lion) to the left, guarding a red chalice symbolizing democracy. Above hovers the Chakkri Crown in yellow.

This flag was first created following a special Royal Decree concerning flags, in B.E.2479 [1936 AD] — a turning point in the country's history, when Siam became a constitutional monarchy. The flag seen here was first used in B.E.2482 [1939 AD] and has been in use until B.E.2522 [1979 AD].

Santiago Dotor, 5 November 1999

Flaggenbuch 1939 shows a white flag like the Regent's one with a 5:6 ratio, a centred escutcheon, no garuda and the two supporters described above —Kojasri and Rajasri— as Ministerpräsident. This relates better in some way to the above description, as the Singha Beer source image shows no "official state seal".

Flaggenbuch 1939 also shows another similar flag to the Regent's, with a 5:6 ratio, the centred escutcheon alone and no supporters, as Staatsminister (außer Kriegsminister) or "Minister (other than War Minister)".

Santiago Dotor, 20 January 2000

Obsolete Governor's Flag

Example shown: Governor of Ayudhya 1912
[Governor of Ayudhya 1912 (Thailand)]
The blue border matches the original source's background and is not part of the flag
from the Singha Beer source

From the Singha Beer source:

The Governor's Flag
The Governor's Flag is a red flag with a white elephant —in full caparison— standing on a raised dais. In the top left-hand corver [sic], there is a white circle, the diameter of which is one fourth of the width of the entire flag. In the middle of the circle stands the city's coat of arms. [Like the War Ensign 1891-1917 with city coat-of-arms inside a circle on the canton and a smaller elephant, slightly offset towards the fly.]

The flag, which first made an appearance in B.E.2434 [1891 AD], was known as "The White-Elephant-on-a-Platform Flag". The version shown here is the one used in B.E.2455 [1912 AD] by the Governor of Ayudhya during the reign, of King Rama VI. Governor's flag of this type were adopted for only a short period of time before their use was discontinued.

Santiago Dotor, 5 November 1999

Cambodian States formerly under Thai/Siamese sovereignty

The territory of Cambodia was enlarged in 1904 (provinces of Meloupre and Tonle-Repou) and 1907 (provinces of Siemreap, Battambang, and Sisophon). These provinces were given back by the kingdom of Siam, whose expansionism in Cambodia had given a 'legitimate' motive to France for establishing the protection regime. Source: Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe siècle (1932).

Ivan Sache, 9 November 2001

Malayan States formerly under Thai/Siamese sovereignty

Webster's New Geographical Dictionary 1988 has:

Perlis was until 1821 subject to Kedah; made separate state by Siamese 1841; came under British protection by treaty of 1909, in which Siam ceded to Great Britain its right over the state.
In Asian Frontiers, Alastair Lamb, 1968, pp. 170-171:
In the first half of the 19th century the Bangkok dynasty considered the entire Malay peninsula to fall within its sphere of influence. In the north this was real enough. (...) In 1943 the Japanese undid the territorial transfer of 1909 and restored Kelantan, Trengganu, Perlis and Kedah to nominal Thai sovereignty. (...) Japan's defeat in 1945 automatically brought the 4 northern Malay states back under British rule. It is not difficult to find Thais who will speak with regret of these lost Malayan territories.

Jarig Bakker, 13 November 1999

Basically these four northern states used to pay annual tribute to Siam, and then Great Britain decided Malaya was properly a British sphere of influence, having held Penang since 1786 and Province Wellesley since 1790 from Kedah for the princely sum of $10,000 (still paid each year by the Federal Government to the Kedah Government), and had to protect its commercial interests in its hinterland in the Malay states. The 1909 treaty of Bangkok allowed Great Britain to have Resident Advisors in the northern states, i.e. for them to become British protectorates.

[As for the regret, I believe] the Thais have enough problems with their southern Muslim minorities who would be more happy in Malaysia.

Andrew Yong, 13 November 1999