Thai Royal Guards parade
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Every December 2 since 1953, in celebration of the birthday of the King of Thailand, the Royal Guards of the Royal Thai Armed Forces perform a military parade and pledge loyalty to the monarch. The venue is the Royal Plaza at Bangkok, Thailand, in front of the Dusit Palace and its Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.
All three branches of the armed forces take part in the parade, as seen in the composition of the Massed Military Bands, Bugle Squads and the Colors Parties of the 13 military units participating, also unique in their uniforms and bearskin hats, except for the lone cavalry unit in attendance, wearing Cuirassier uniforms, cavalry helmets, mounts and Thai lances. These uniforms are a nod to the British military traditions in the Royal Thai Armed Forces since the time of King Rama V Chulangkorn in the final years of the 19th century, with a combination of the British and German military drill and ceremonial. The general public also attend the parade celebrations, and Thai television stations broadcast this to the entire nation.
Of the 13 participating battalions most are from the Royal Thai Army with two battalions, one each from the Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Marine Corps and another two battalions coming from the Royal Thai Air Force; all in full dress uniforms. Of all of them, most are active military units, the rest are military academies of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, represented by cadet battalions of the academies themselves led by their commandants.
The tradition started in 1953 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), as a simple colours ceremony for the new colours of the 1st Infantry Regiment "The King's Guards" and has now grown into a national military tradition through the years. Since 2009, however, Trooping the Colours is not held, however the oath taking part of the ceremony is retained, plus the ceremonial march-in and march-out of the troops and the Massed Bands, the Royal Salutes and the Royal 21-Gun Salute.
History of the ceremonial parade
On Dec. 5, 1953, the 1st Inf. Regiment The King's Guards of the Royal Thai Army received their Colours from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, in Bangkok, and trooped it in his presence, thus beginning this national military tradition. This has now grown from being a purely infantry activity to becoming an Armed Forces-wide celebration over the years, with the original unit now being joined by 12 other units representing the RTAF. They form the Thai counterpart to the British Household Division: 12 foot units and 1 mounted unit parade past the Royal Family on that day.
The difference now that the ones on parade are units designated as "King's Guards" by His Majesty the King in his full constitutional duties as Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, from all its three branches.
These units are as follows:
- 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Bodyguard (a.k.a. "Raja Vallop")
- 1st Infantry Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, King's Guard
- 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen's Guard (a.k.a. "Thahan Sua Rachini")
- 31st Infantry Regiment, King's Guard
- 1st Cavalry Squadron, King's Guard
- 1st Engineer Bataillion, King's Guard
- 1st Marine Bataillion, King's Guard (Royal Thai Marine Corps)
- 1st Security Force Bataillion, King's Guard
- 2nd Infantry Bataillion, 11th Infantry Regiment, King's Guard
- Regiment of Midshipmen,King's Guard
- CRMA Cadets Regiment, King's Guard
- Air Cadet Regiment, King's Guard