BANGKOK — Nearly 7,000 troops from all four branches of the armed forces – the army, navy, air force, and police – participated in a grandiose military parade before Their Majesties the King and Queen on Saturday.
Although Thailand is never known for a lack of parades and military shows, Saturday’s ceremony in Saraburi province certainly stood out for several reasons that a casual observer might have missed.
It’s the first parade of its kind in 2 decades
The last time the Thai armed forces organized a joint full-scale parade and pledge of allegiance by the military and police was June 1996, back when King Bhumibol was celebrating his 50th anniversary on the throne, surpassing any previous Thai monarch.
And the first parade presided over by King Rama X
King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida personally observed the massive parade on Saturday, where 6,812 troops from 39 different units and a variety of military hardwares were on display.
It celebrated two occasions: in honor of His Majesty’s coronation in May 2019 and marking the 428th anniversary of a battle that freed Thai people from the vassalage of the Taungoo Empire, which is now in present-day Myanmar.
The King sports a new uniform
Instead of the usual red outfit and a tall, plumed cap of an armed forces commander, King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida appeared at the parade replesdent in the white uniform and pith helmet, a dress code exclusive to the King’s elite Ratchawallop Retainers guards corps.
Ratchawallop Retainers, who form the inner circle of the palace’s military apparatus, have been associated with King Vajiralongkorn since his years as the Crown Prince, but this is the first time a monarch donned the uniform of the corps to preside over a joint parade.
The gesture might symbolize a cordial tie between His Majesty and his royal corps. Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong was also clad in the all-white Ratchawallop uniform.
Apirat takes his appearance very seriously
And since we’re talking about Gen. Apirat, it’s worth noting that a certain “lifehack” shared by the army chief attracted much attention on social media.
Writing online, Bangkok Post reporter Wassana Nanuam, who routinely publishes information on behalf of the military, revealed that Gen. Apirat attached a small magnet to his army ID card, and placed another one inside his uniform, to prevent the plastic card from swinging about when walking.
“Wearing a military uniform must be done in a majestic manner,” Wassana wrote in a post that has drawn over 1,700 reactions on Facebook.