Timeline of the Royal Water Processions in Thailand
The history of the Thai Royal Barge Processional dates back over 700 years. Here is a brief timeline of the Royal Water Processions in Thailand. Click here for The Ultimate Guide for Viewing the Thai Royal Barge Processional.
700 years ago: Kingdom of Sukhothai
The history of the Royal Barge Processional dates back over 700 years to the Sukhothai period in Thai history (1238-1438.) At that time, royal barges took part in ceremonies, including lantern processionals, on rivers in the Kingdom of Sukhothai.
300 years ago: the Ayutthayan Era and Royal Water Processions
The barges, sailing in formation were used in battle as well as in religious ceremonies during the Ayutthayan era (1350 – 1767.) One of the oldest patterns of boat formation, the Phet Puang, dates back to this ancient time and is still used today.
The formations also were used to welcome and impress foreign dignitaries. When Louis XIV sent his ambassador, Chevalier de Chaumont, to Ayutthaya in 1685, a Royal Barge Processional welcomed him in a show of the Kingdom’s strength and power.
>250 years ago: Capital City and Royal Barges burn
In 1767, over 200 royal barges were wiped out when Burma, now Myanmar, captured and burned the capital city of Ayutthaya. That battle ended the 400-year reign of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
>230 years ago: Center of Power moves to Bangkok - Rama I rebuilds fleet
During the Bangkok Period (1782-present) Rama I, the first king of the dynasty, wants to rebuild the fleet in order to float the Royal Water Processions once again. By then, the center of power had moved from Ayutthaya to the Bangkok area on the Chao Phraya River.
75 years ago: Royal Barges Bombed in WWII
In World War II, the Thai Royal Barge Processional boats – stored in the Thonburi train station – were destroyed again. The railroad was used by the Japanese to supply their armies in Burma. Some of the Thai ships survived, including the oldest surviving boat built 150 years ago during the reign of Rama IV. The Royal Water Processions did not resume until 1957.
See a modern version of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River by going to The Ultimate Guide for Viewing the Thai Royal Barge Processional and scrolling down to the interactive map.
60 years ago: Royal Barge Procession revived
King Rama IX revives the Royal Barge Procession to preserve Thai cultural heritage in 1959.
The Royal Barge Procession Today
Before the Royal Barge Procession on 12 December, minor rehearsals will be held on November 19, and 26 and December 3, 2019. One full dress rehearsal is scheduled for December 9. Read the full report here.
The Royal Water Processions begin at the Wasukri Pier and end at the Ratchaworadit Pier, about 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers.)
Won’t be in Bangkok on any of these dates? Then make sure to visit the Royal Barges Museum when you are in town.
Thai Royal Barge Processional Facts
Who: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (King Rama X) accompanied by Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana
What: Royal Barge Processional for the Coronation of King Rama X
Where: Chao Phraya River from the Wasukri Pier to the Ratchaworadit Pier, Bangkok, Thailand.
When: December 12, 2019, at 15.30 hour
Distance: 3.5 kilometers
Number of vessels: 52
Number of oarsmen: 2300
What to wear: Yellow shirt, dark pants or over-the-knee skirt.
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