At Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, located on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a representation of the 1932 constitution sits on two golden offering bowls atop a turret as part of the monument, and is guarded by four wing-like structures intended to represent the four branches of Thailand’s armed forces – the army, navy, air force and police.

The history of the Constitution Day public holiday dates back to 1932, when Thailand – which at the time was still known as Siam – remained under a system of absolute monarchy under King Rama VII, King Prajadhipok.

In the face of troubles, as a result of the Great Depression, a coup took place with the aim of a move away from the system of absolute monarchy. The armed forces, police, and intellectual class approached king Rama VII and demanded his power be limited. Not only a democratic spirit but also the king’s extreme youth led to the loss of confidence in his ability to lead the nation. At first, the king refused, but at last, on 10 December 1932, he acquiesced. The king was essentially stripped of all power, but his position as king was protected.

Since that day, there have been 20 more constitutions of Thailand, yet the monarchy endured them all. To this day, Thailand’s king is held in high regard as the official head of state, commander and chief of the military, and “upholder of all religions.”

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