A message asking moviegoers to stand up for the Royal Anthem. Image: SF Cinema.

BANGKOK — Starting on Tuesday, students at public schools operated by the City Hall must line up and sing the Royal Anthem in unison every morning per order from Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang.

Though there were backlashes to the instruction, Gov. Aswin took to his official Facebook to defend his decision, saying he wanted to promote loyalty to the monarchy and stressing that students would not be exposed to the ongoing PM2.5 pollution contrary to concerns of some parents.

“Singing the Royal Anthem is just an idea to promote … love and faith in the nation, religions, and the monarch, who are the crucial foundations of Thainess,” Aswin wrote. “However, as of this moment, we still refrain from all outdoor activities, out of consideration for the children’s health.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Governor also ordered all schools operated by the Bangkok authorities to shut down tomorrow for a day as the smog crisis fails to improve.

Thai schools typically require students to sing the National Anthem every morning, though the Royal Anthem, which extols the virtues of the reigning monarch, is played less frequently. In many schools, the Royal Anthem is sung only once a week, at the end of class on Friday.

Aswin discussed the new policy earlier on Monday in a meeting with city officials, in which he said the decline of Royal Anthem should be reversed. Under his order, the Royal Anthem must be sung right after the National Anthem.

Inspired by the British “God Save the King,” the Thai royal court came up with the Royal Anthem about 150 years ago, during the reign of King Rama V, though the current version of the song was formalized much later.

It also served as the national anthem until a coup ended the king’s direct rule in 1932 and the revolutionaries opted for the current national anthem, which was stripped of any reference to the monarchy.

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