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Wan Chatra Mongkol: Thai Coronation Day (วันฉัตรมงคล)


Many countries have days that celebrate or commemorate the head of state. For Thailand, the Coronation Day, or Wan Chatra Mongkol (วันฉัตรมงคล), is an auspicious occasion to celebrate the coronation anniversary of the Thai monarch. Rituals are performed on the royal regalia which symbolizes kingship.  In the current reign of King Rama X, Coronation Day marks the anniversary of His Majesty’s coronation on 4 May 2019.



Coronations of Thai monarchs have been held since ancient times. However, the earliest written record of an annual Coronation Day celebration in Thailand can be found in a piece of poetry written in documentary style by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) called The Royal Twelve-Month Ceremonies of King Chulalongkorn (พระราชพิธีสิบสองเดือน), elaborating on royal ceremonies that take place every month of the year. According to King Rama V’s writing, Coronation Day was first introduced to the royal court by King Mongkut (Rama IV), his father.


Coronation of King Rama I (cr. Matichon)


The rituals performed on Coronation Day developed over time. In the reign of King Rama IV, the King, in his private event, made merit to celebrate the royal umbrella or chatra (ฉัตร), the Thai symbol of kingship. As a result, Coronation Day in Thai is called Wan Chatra Mongkol (วันฉัตรมงคล) meaning “Auspicious Day of the Royal Umbrella.”


The merit-making ceremony for Coronation Day rituals was held privately in the Grand Palace until King V turned it into a state event. In his reign, Coronation Day’s ceremony included the conferral of Order of Chula Chao Klao, firing of gun salute, paying homage to the late kings, and merit-making in celebration of the Royal Regalia. In the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), merit-making for the late kings was added to list of rituals. Nowadays, in the current reign of King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X), Coronation Day celebrations span three days, with the May 4 announced as a public holiday.


Coronation of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII); attendees holding the Royal Regalia
(cr. STOU Library)


Royal Thai Coronation Ceremony and Its Spiritual Essence

Thailand’s coronation ceremony marking the king’s official ascension to the throne are rooted in Brahmin and Buddhist traditions. In order to become a ‘Divine King,’ according to Brahmin tradition, the king must undergo ancient Brahmin rituals, including the royal ceremonial bath of purification, whereby the king is bathed by holy waters taken from various sources. In addition to being a means of purification, water is also used to convey blessings and auspiciousness from the gods to the king. The idea of the “Divine King” (สมมุตติเทวราช) upholds the monarch as the representative of divine forces. The king embodies the qualities of the deities, namely Lord Brahma (The Creator), Lord Vishnu (The Protector), and Lord Shiva (The Destroyer of Evil). As the deities’ duties are to govern different aspects of life, so too must the king look after different aspects of his people’s and kingdom’s welfare.


King Rama X undertaking purification bath during the coronation
(cr. Prachachat)


Following Brahmin rites, the new king makes his commitment to embody the Dasavidha-rājadhamma (ทศพิธราชธรรม), or the “Tenfold Virtue of the Ruler,” a Buddhist teaching that serves as a guide for a ruler. Among the ten virtues are Thann (ทาน) meaning “giving”, Khanti (ขันติ) meaning “patience”, and Mattawa (มัททวะ) meaning “gentleness”. These virtues are crucial for ensuring the ruler’s moral conduct and the provision of good governance for the people.


As a crucial part of the coronation ceremony, the king would receive the Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrella, the Five Royal Regalia, and other regalia from the head brahmin priest who leads the ceremony. The presentation of the regalia, the symbol of the king’s power and majesty, signifies that the accession to the throne has completed.


The head brahmin priest presenting the Great Crown of Victory to King Rama X
(cr. Prachachat)


The Chatra and the Five Royal Regalia – The Symbols of Kingship

The Thai Royal Regalia consist of many items, including weapons and ritual objects, among others. Chief among these items are the Nine-Tiered Royal Umbrella and the Five Royal Regalia. The royal umbrella, or chatra (ฉัตร), is an auspicious item adopted from Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The chatra symbolizes kingship and is often depicted in iconographies of the Buddha, deities, and ancient monarchs. In many parts of Mainland Southeast Asia, the chatra used by royalty is white in color. In Thailand the white umbrella is known as the Sveta Chatra (เศวตฉัตร), meaning “White Umbrella,” with the number of tiers signifying the rank of the owner. The highest rank is known as the Nopphapadon Mahasawettachat (นพปฎลมหาเศวตฉัตร) or the “Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrella,” which is reserved only for the monarch. There are, in fact, many Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrellas, each hung above an important location, such as the throne or the bed of the king. The high number of tiers symbolizes the heavy responsibility that the king must carry.


The Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrella above the throne
(cr. Diego Delso)


The Five Royal Regalia (เบญจราชกกุธภัณฑ์) were crafted in the reign of King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I), the first king of the Chakri dynasty, as regal objects demonstrating kingship. The concept of royal regalia originated in India and traveled via the ancient Khmer and other Southeast Asian kingdoms to the ancient Thai kingdoms. Historical accounts show that they were used as symbols of kingship in Thailand during Sukhothai Kingdom (1238 to 1438) and the tradition continued to the Ayutthaya period (1351 to 1767) until the fall of the ancient kingdom. Therefore, at the beginning of the Rattanakosin period (1782 to present) when King Rama I built Bangkok and founded Chakri dynasty in 1782, the King had the Five Royal Regalia made to replace those of the old Ayutthaya Kingdom that were lost during the war.


(cr. Thairath)


1) Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut (พระมหาพิชัยมงกุฎ) – The Great Crown of Victory

The Great Crown of Victory is a Thai-style crown inlaid with gold and adorned with diamonds, with the crown jewel named Phra Maha Wichian Mani (พระมหาวิเชียรมณี) or “The Great Diamond.” The crown, symbolizing the top of the Hindu deity Indra’s palace, is considered the most important item among the Five Royal Regalia. The heavy weight of the crown symbolizes the heavy duties of the king.


(cr. Thairath)


2) Phra Saeng Khan Chai Sri (พระแสงขรรค์ชัยศรี) – The Sword of Victory

The Sword of Victory, an ancient sword, is said to be retrieved from at the bottom of a lake in Siem Reap by a fisherman and later presented to King Rama I. The King then ordered the sheath to be made with gold inlay, enamel paint and gemstone decoration. The sword represents the king’s sharp mind and justice.


(cr. Thairath)


3) Tharn Phra Korn (ธารพระกร) – The Royal Scepter

The Royal Scepter is made of chaiyapruek (Java cassia) wood inlaid with gold with one end craved into a shape of a trident, symbolizing the king’s duty to provide stability to his kingdom.


(cr. Thairath)


4) Walwichani (วาลวิชนี) The Royal Fan and Flywhisk

King Rama I originally only had the Royal Fan made from a gold-inlaid palm leaf. Later, King Rama IV added the fly whisk made of white elephant tail hair was to the collection. The fan and the flywhisk symbolize the king’s duty to bring alleviate sufferings and bring peace to the people.


(cr. Thairath)


5) Chalong Phra Baht Cherng Ngorn (ฉลองพระบาทเชิงงอน) – The Royal Turned-up Slippers

The Royal Turned-up Slippers are made of gold with decorated with enamel paint and diamonds. During the coronation ritual, the head brahmin priest put them on for the king. The shoes symbolize the king’s duty to travel across his land, even the nethermost region, to inspect the livelihood of his people.


Rituals of the Coronation Day

Ever since King Rama X was coronated on 4 May 2019, Coronation Day rituals in commemoration of His Majesty’s accession to the throne are held in May for three days every year, with one of them being 4 May. On the first day, the King and the Queen make merit for the late kings. Monks perform blessing chants and give Buddhist teachings to the attendees.


The second day marks the official date of King Rama X’s Royal Coronation Ceremony in 2019. This day marks the beginning of the Brahmin-Buddhist rituals for the annual Coronation Day celebration. The chief Brahmin read the royal proclamation on the celebration of Coronation Day of the year, followed by Buddhist monks performing evening chants.


Coronation Day 2024; King Rama X present alms to a monk
(cr. Matichon)


The last day is usually held on 4 May: the date that King Rama X is officially crowned. Rituals on this day focusses on blessing the Royal Regalia. A table of royal offerings known as bai si is set in front of the Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrella, the Five Royal Regalia, and other regalia. The King makes offerings to the Buddha. The Supreme Patriarch gives the king and the attendees precepts and blessing. The King and members of the Royal Family then make offerings to the Supreme Patriarch and other attending monks. The Supreme Patriarch and the monks bless the King and the attendees.


Coronation Day 2016; brahmin priests light ceremonial candles in front of the bai si
(cr. Television Pool of Thailand)


The Buddhist ritual is followed by a Brahmin ritual. Members of the Royal Family and senior officials of the state, including the prime minister, stand in a circle around the King, the Queen, and the regalia. The royal brahmin priests stand in front of the bai si table and light the ceremonial candles. The royal astrologer then receives the candles and pass them along to the encircling crowd. The crowd rotates the candles clockwise, each person waving each candle towards himself/herself three times before using the right hand to flutter the smoke towards the King, the Queen, and the regalia. Once all the candles have been rotated, the head brahmin priest gathers the candles together, extinguishes the flame, and flutters the smoke towards the King, the Queen, and the regalia. The head brahmin priest pays homage to the King and proceeds to anoint the Royal Nine-Tiered Royal Umbrella, followed by the royal astrologer tying a pink cloth around the Royal Nine-Tiered Royal Umbrella. The King then sprinkles sacred water on the Royal Nine-Tiered Royal Umbrella, the Five Royal Regalia, and other regalia. During the ceremony, sacred music is played and the Thai army and navy fire a 21-gun salute.


Coronation Day 2024; King Rama X sprinkles sacred water on the Royal Nine-Tiered Umbrella and other regalia
(cr. Prachachat)


In the evening, the King bestows the Order of Chula Chao Klao to that year’s recipients. The King then pays homage to the Emerald Buddha and statues of past Chakri Dynasty Kings. On the same day, the public awaits to gain audience with the King.

A Deeper Look into the Celebration
Beside commemorating an important occasion, the Coronation Day also represents the Thai monarch’s commitment to his people. Each element of the Royal Thai Coronation and each piece of regalia symbolizes the duties of the king as well as the virtues he must uphold, namely the Tenfold Virtue of the Ruler. Values such as dedication, compassion, and justice are qualities of a ruler that remain admirable even in today’s society. The rituals conducted on the regalia is believed to help ensure success for the king in carrying out his royal duties for the people’s sake.


The centuries-old tradition which combines Brahmin and Buddhist traditions also represents Thailand’s long-standing value of diversity and openness. The Brahmin/Hindu and Buddhist faiths have co-existed in Thailand for hundreds of years. Furthermore, as a public holiday, the Coronation Day provides an opportunity for the people to rest and enjoy leisure activities with their loved ones. This, can be seen as symbolic of the king’s role in promoting his people’s happiness.


The story of the “Thai Coronation Day” is a royal heritage of Thailand. The details of the celebration as well as the Royal Regalia symbolizes the admirable values of a ruler, such as dedication, compassion, justice, and patience. The harmony between the Brahmanism/Hinduism and Buddhism also embodies the open and syncretic nature of the Thai cultural melting pot. Join us in exploring more stories of Thailand and the Thai people, as we take you on a journey to discover Thainess.


  1. Nattaphol Yingkla, King Prajadhipok’s Institute 


Author: Nutcha Suwanmalee and Tayud Mongkolrat

4 May 2024