Royal Guards (Thailand)

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Royal Guards
Regimiento Primero de Infantería de la Guardia Real, Gran Palacio, Bangkok, Tailandia, 2013-08-22, DD 02.JPG
Thai Royal Guards in the Grand Palace, Bangkok.
Active 1859-present
Country  Thailand
Branch Royal Thai Army
Type Guard Regiment
Nickname(s) Thahan Song Lo (ทหารสองโหล, Two-Dozen soldiers)
Mahat Lek Lai Ka (มหาดเล็กไล่กา, Scarecrow Corps)
Chulalongkorn the Great

The Royal Guards (Thai: ทหารรักษาพระองค์; rtgsThahan Raksa Phra Ong) is the Guards Division of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, guarding the Royal Family of Thailand.


The Royal Guards were established by King Chulalongkorn the Great of Thailand in 1859, when he was still crown prince. Initially, the Royal Guards were servants with duties such as scaring crows, which led to commoners referring to them as the "Mahat Lek Lai Ka," roughly translated as "Scarecrow Corps."

When he succeeded his father in 1868, King Chulalongkorn took his Royal Guard and formed a 24-strong Royal Bodyguard, referred to as the "Thahan Song Lo" (Two-Dozen soldiers"). In 1870, the Royal Guard regiment were given the name the "King's Guard" and their duties included escorting the king while he travelled around the country.

About the year 1875 the necessity for surveys in connection with improvements in the city of Bangkok, and for supervision in carrying out these improvements, led to the selection of certain officers of the royal bodyguard for training in this direction. These officers were formed into a special company called "Military Engineers of the Royal Bodyguard," in which Mr. James McCarthy held the rank of captain. A royal decree issued September 3, 1885, separated the surveyors from the royal bodyguard and created the Royal Survey Department,[1] which is now the Royal Thai Survey Department (Thai: กรมแผนที่ทหาร, a Special Services Group of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.

The Royal Guards still exist down to the present and serve as protectors of the Royal Family of Thailand.[2][3]

Notable units[edit]

There are several dozen units within the Royal Thai Armed Forces which have been granted Royal Guards status; the most notable units, which participate at the annual Thai Royal Guards parade, are as follows:

Flag of the Thai Royal Guard, especially use for units under the 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Bodyguard.

Aside from these units, other Guards formations include:

  • 7th Signal Battalion, King's Guard
  • 12th Signal Battalion, King's Guard
  • 10th Infantry Regiment, King's Guard
  • 2nd Cavalry Squadron, King's Guard
  • 1st Air Defense Artillery Battalion, King's Guard
  • 4th Tank Battalion, King's Guard

These formations, save for the military academies' Guard regiments and those under the Royal Thai Navy and the RTAF, are under the command of the First Army under the Thai counterparts to the Household Division: the 1st Infantry Division, King's Guard and the 2nd Infantry Division, King's Guard.



  1. ^ Giblin, R.W. (2006) [1908]. "Royal Survey Work.". In Wright, Arnold; Breakspear, Oliver T. Twentieth century impressions of Siam (65.3 MB). London&c: Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing Company. p. 121. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Kenneth Conboy, South-East Asian Special Forces (Osprey)