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Royal Flags (Thailand)

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: thailand | royal | garuda | phya khrut | mythical creature |
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Regarding the Personal flags of Royal Family members, Russia (16xx-1917): these royal standards bear so many similarities in design with the set of Thai royal flags adopted in 1911 that I wonder whether they were based on the Russian ones.
Santiago Dotor
, 07 October 2002

Centered on all of the royal flags are the arms of Thailand. Introduced in 1910, these arms consist of the great mythical being known as the Garuda which is part man and part bird. It is a protective spirit and "the bearer of the god of bravery". The yellow field associated with all of these flags represents Buddhism.

The royal flags of Thailand have a distinctive pattern. The flags of male members of the royal house are square. The female royal members' flags are identical with those of the corresponding male members; however, the fly of their flags are split like a burgee.

The King's flag has the Garuda on a square, yellow field while the Queen's flag is a yellow swallowtailed flag with the Garuda. The Crown Prince's flag places the Garuda on a yellow panel in the middle of a blue field. The Crown Princess' flag places the panel on a blue swallowtailed flag. All other Princes place the Garuda on a yellow disk which is centered on a blue field. The same disk on a blue burgee is the flag of Princesses who are the King's daughters.

Assuming no changes to the law, there are also [broad] pennants that are assigned to each category of royalty. The form of the pennant is a square reproduction of the male member's flag in the hoist while the rest of the pennant has a split tail. The differentiation between male and female royalty is color of the rest of the pennant. The rest of the pennant is white for male royalty and red for female royalty. For example, the pennant of the King is a miniature King's flag with a white tail. The Queen's pennant has a miniature of the King's flag with a red tail.

Sources: Flaggenbuch 1939, Smith 1980; Crampton 1989; Crampton 1990.
Calvin Paige Herring
, 15 May 1998

According to Flaggenbuch 1939 the proportions of all the royal broad pennants – see for instance the king's and queen's broad pennants – are:

  • height and width of the square (hoist) area: 60 units
  • length of tapering fly: 420 units
  • depth of swallowtail cut: 180 units
  • distance between both ends of the swallowtail: 30 units
which match quite well the (incomplete) data given by the Singha Beer source.
Santiago Dotor, 05 July 2001

In the course of the 2006 Thai coup d'etat, Wikipedia reported that

Many soldiers and military vehicles wore strips of yellow cloth as symbols of loyalty to the king, whose royal colour is yellow.

This could refer to both the Royal Standard and any of the current king's personal flags – they're both yellow.
Eugene Ipavec
, 21 September 2006

In a private message to me by Thai vexillologist Suttipong Phuensaen, he sent me an announcement from the Bureau of the Royal Household. Issued on 9 May 2019, in the name of King Vajiralongkorn, Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol (Director-General of the Crown Property Bureau and Lord Chamberlain) presented not only updated titles for the royal family but also updated flag usage. This still uses the flag law issued from 1979 but created three more flags for specific members of the royal family. For Sirikit, the wife of the late King Rama IX, she not only was elevated to Queen Mother, but she was also granted a flag exactly the same as the queen's standard with the addition of her monogram to the top hoist. For Crown Princess Sirindhorn, her flag is exactly the same as the crown princess's standard with the addition of her monogram to the top hoist. For Chulabhorn, her flag is exactly the same as the princess's standard with the addition of her monogram to the top hoist.
Zachary Harden, 12 May 2018

Phya Khrut or Royal Garuda – Royal Symbol and National Arms

[Garuda (Thailand)] image from Wikipedia; adapted from Thai government source

The Garuda is a mythical figure with a human torso and arms, a demonic face and a bird's legs, wings and tail. It is dressed in gold, with a crown, bracelets, armbands, a necklace and a girdle or loin cloth. The lower half of the legs are also gold.
Nathan Augustine
, 08 April 1996

Garuda, incidentally, is originally a Hindu god, a combination bird / human creature. There is a whole legend behind his birth and doings.
Dipesh Navsaria
, 10 April 1996

Garuda is a mythical bird with the head and wings of a phoenix and the body and limbs of a man. He is said to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. He plays an important role in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. In countries like Thailand, where the national religion is Buddhism, Garuda is revered as a deity. In Indonesia and Malaysia, he plays an important role in Malay folklore although the two countries are mainly Muslim. This is because the Malay Archipelago used to be Hindu before the coming of Islam (Srivijaya and Majapahit dynasty).
Giuseppe Bottasini
, 13 August 1997

The Royal Standard is embellished with a Phya-Khrut. Phya translates to "king," "ruler," or "lord." Khrut translates to Garuda; i.e. "a mythical bird with a human body and head, wings and talons of an eagle". The Phya Khrut is the national symbol of Thailand, and is such is to be displayed and handled with respect and care. Those few businesses – by definition large and influential ones – that display the Phya Khrut on the front of their buildings are privileged to do so as a consequence of explicit approval by the Thai government.
Riley B. VanDyke
, 22 June 1998

Smith calls this (in Croatian) state arms, but it may be matter of translation. However, Colouring of Garuda in ALbum 2000 is not entirely the same as I have seen it elsewhere (e.g. mentioned Smith's book or FOTW ). It seems that Garuda should be "membered or" (to use European heraldic terms) and not red as in Album. This difference goes though all the flags showing Garuda, of course.
Željko Heimer
, 30 March 2003

Regarding the Royal Garuda, ours seems to be a variation on an image in the Thai Wikipedia, whose description explicitly states "A Garuda, however not the coat of arms of either Thailand or Indonesia." The page provides a list of significant differences, which I now quote:

"This is not the coat of arms of Thailand. The real Thai Coat of Arms (Tra Khrut) should have sharp wing tips – the wingtips of this image are blunt. The real Khrut should have 7 external wing-tips per side – there are 9 wingtips in this image. The real Khrut should be wearing wearing what looks like a high belt which connects to its necklace – the one in this image is only wearing a necklace. The fingertips of the real Khrut should be pointed directly at the apex of its Monthien (hat) at 45 and 225 degree angles – the one in this image has fingers that are horizontal. The tail design is distinctly different."
By comparison, the Thai Royal Garuda in the English Wikipedia is the real deal, closely matching both the above description and the garuda in the header of official goverment PDF's I've downloaded – which makes sense, as the Wikipedia image was taken from the cover of the Royal Thai Government Gazette.

Also, we have our Garuda in the Royal Flags section, as a royal symbol, but there is evidence – both in literature [smi82], usage (on embassies, etc.) and in the Thai Wikipedia – that it also serves as state arms.
Eugene Ipavec
, 02 October 2006

The garuda on the Royal Standard shown here is a fair bit smaller than we have it. It may be due to it being used as a car flag.
Eugene Ipavec
, 21 September 2006

Former National Arms (1868-1910)

The three ornamented white elephants in the Luan Praban flag appeared on Thailand's former COA, used 1868-1910. [Ed.: visible on the Chuthathut Thippatai former army flag]
Nozomi Kariyasu
, 23 July 2004

Kings of the Chakri Dynasty

The list of Their Majesties of the Chakri Dynasty is as follows:

Name                                     Date of reign
----                                	 -------------
King Phutthayotfa Chulalok [Rama I]    	April 6, 1782 -     September 7, 1809
King Phutthaloetla Naphalai [Rama II]   September 7, 1809 - July 21,1824
King Nangklao [Rama III]            	July 21, 1824 -     April 2, 1851
King Mongkut [Rama IV]              	April 2, 1851 -     October 1, 1868
King Chulalongkorn [Rama V]         	October 1, 1868 -   October 23, 1910
King Vajiravudh [Rama VI]           	October 23, 1910 -  November 26, 1925
King Prajadhipok [Rama VII]         	November 26, 1925 - March 2, 1935
King Ananda Mahidol [Rama VIII]     	March 2, 1935 -     June 9, 1946
King Bhumibol Adulyadej [Rama IX]       June 9, 1946 -      October 13, 2016
King Vajiralongkorn [Rama X]            October 13, 2016 -  present day

Wisarut Bholsithi, 1 January 2000, updated by Zachary Harden, 20 November 2016