BANGKOK — A special police division set up to protect the monarchy in October was renamed Monday to serve as a personal bodyguard unit under His Majesty the King.
In three separate orders published last night, the Special Service Division became the Ratchawallop Police Retainers, King’s Guards 904; with a new command structure and broader responsibilities.
The change was announced in two Royal Gazette decrees signed by junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha and a police order signed by deputy junta leader Prawit Wongsuwan.
The documents said the unit’s duties involve protecting the monarchy and coordinating with the royal palace for more efficient operation. Maj. Gen. Torsak Sukvimol will continue to lead the Ratchawallop Police Retainers, King’s Guards 904. Its jurisdiction covers the entire country.
The name is a reference to the Ratchawallop, a guard corps traditionally known for its close relationship with ruling monarchs. The number 904 is the police codeword assigned to King Vajiralongkorn when he was the Crown Prince.
A new subunit, called the Special Affairs Division, was also added to the structure. Its responsibilities include VIP protection for members of the Royal Family and running a mass volunteer group initiated by King Vajiralongkorn. It will also serve as a liaison between the volunteers and police, and train local police in VIP protection.
Furthermore, the division is tasked with evaluating the volunteer affairs, VIP protection and other assigned duties.
The volunteer group, called Chit Arsa, was created by the current monarch to perform a wide range of civic works, from cleaning the streets and canals to organizing events dedicated to the monarchy.
Hundreds of thousands of people are reported to belong to the network – which some analysts compare to the rural-based Village Scouts during the Cold War.