April 6 marks the anniversary of the founding of the present Chakri Dynasty of which of which the present ruling monarch, King Bhumibol the Great, is the ninth king.
The Chakri Dynasty was founded by Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, or Rama I, who was born on March 20, 1737 with the name of Thoung Duang and came to the throne on April 6, 1782. He ruled the country for 28 years. During his reign he consolidated the kingdom in such a way that there was no further fear of invasion from enemies. King Rama I has been praised as an accomplished statesman, a lawmaker, a poet and a devout Buddhist. Thus, his reign has been called a “reconstruction” of the Thai state and Thai culture. He was the monarch who established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand, and this is the most long-lasting creation which gains popularity as the “city of Angels”. King Rama I passed away on September 7, 1809 at the age of 72.
King Rama I’s son,Phra Buddha Loetla Naphalai,or Rama II, them acceded to the throne. It was during his reign that a renaissance of Thai arts and culture came about, especially in literature. The King himself was a man gifted with artistic talent. Phra Nang Klao came next. He fortified the country with a strong defence force and commisssoned many buildings. It was during his reign that Thai arts reached the highest peak since Ayutthaya period. It is said that the reigns of King Rama II and III constituted a Golden Age of Literature and Arts, similar to King Narai’s in Ayutthaya. King Rama III or Phra Nang Klao was succeeded by King Mongkut (RamaIV) who was a bold religious leader. He started the commercial contacts with foreign countries and was responsible for the introduction of western science and modernisation into Thailand. Then came King Chulalongkorn, the benevolent monarch. During his reign of 42 years, many changes and reforms were made in Thailand. Slavery was abolished, modern system of administration was introduced, efficient law courts were established, education was systematically spread, and the financial system was revised.
King Vajiravudh, who succeeded King Chulalongkorn, further consolidated and developed what had been accomplished in the previous 40 years. He contributed much to the national language and literature so much so that he was sometimes called the poet who was a king. The out standing achievement of his reign is perhaps a number of new treaties concluded between Thailand and other powers as it helped enhancing the prestige of Thailand. The King also in troduced the use of tricolour flag to replace the old red flag with a white elephant.
King Vajiravudh passed away on November 26, 1925 and was succeede by his younger brother King Prachadhipok, the seventh king of Chakri Dynasty who reigned as the last absolute monarch. On June 24, 1932 a revolution took place and His Majesty accepted the proposal of a constitutional regime. On March 2, 1934 the King abdicated and later died in exile, leaving the throne to his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol, who after 11 years rule met a sudden death leaving the throne to his younger brother, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the present monarch.
On Chakri Day, His Majesty King Bhumibol accompanied by members of royal family presides over a religious ceremony performed to give merit to the deceased rulers at the royal Chapel, then pays respects to His Majesty’s Predecessors at the Royal Pantheon and lays a wreath at the statue of King Rama I at the Memorial Bridge. On this occasion, the Prime Minister, Ministers, high ranking officers, students, public and private organisations and people from all walks of life take part in a wreath-laying ceremony and make merit for the great kings who dedicated the best part of their lives for the betterment of their subjects.