Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces

Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces
King Vajiralongkorn

since 29 November 2016
Style His Majesty
Type Constitutional Monarchy
Constituting instrument Constitution of Thailand
Formation Formally in 1932

The Head of the Thai Armed Forces (Thai: จอมทัพไทย; rtgs: Chom Thap Thai) is a position vested in the Thai monarch, who as sovereign and head of state is the commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

The position is only nominal. The armed forces are actually managed by the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the cabinet) and commanded by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which in turn is headed by the Chief of the Defence Forces.[1]


Ever since the foundation of the first Thai state, the king has always led his armies into battle. The role of the king as chief warrior was derived from Hindu concepts of kshatriya, and later much influenced by the ideal of a Chakravartin as defender of the realm. This martial responsibility has by tradition been borne by every Thai monarch since, but has never been formally instituted. By the 19th century, with the formal creation of a modern Thai army and navy in 1874 and 1887 respectively, the establishment of a formal chain of command was necessary. The titles of Supreme Head of Army (จอมทัพบก; Chom Thap Bok) and Supreme Head of the Navy (จอมทัพเรือ; Chom Thap Ruea) were created around the latter half of the reign of King Chulalongkorn for himself. After the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, Siam's first permanent constitution established the ceremonial role of Head of the Siamese Armed Forces (จอมทัพสยาม; Chom Thap Siam) in Article 1, Section 5. Since then Thailand has had 16 constitutions and the title has been enshrined in every one of them.

Under the constitutional system, the king's post as head of the armed forces is a means for the monarchy to be closely related to the armed forces. The king participates in military activities and functions, including the presentation of ceremonial colours, based on the national flag, to various units of the armed forces and the presentation of ceremonial swords to all graduating officers of the military academies. The armed forces celebrate the king with an annual parade held on his birthday at the Royal Plaza in central Bangkok.[2]


Since 1910, starting with King Vajiravudh, it is customary for representatives of the Armed Forces to present the newly acceded monarch his insignia as Head of the Armed Forces, at a formal ceremony at the Grand Palace. These include a golden marshal's baton (featuring a Garuda), a sabre and a golden aiguillette (to be worn on the right shoulder).[3]


Portrait Name Reign from Presentation of Insignia Reign until Death
Supreme Head of the Army & Supreme Head of the Navy
Chom Thap Bok & Chom Thap Ruea
King Chulalongkorn
(Rama V)
1 October 1868 16 November 1904[4] 23 October 1910
King Vajiravudh
(Rama VI)
23 October 1910 2 November 1911[5][6] 25 November 1925
Head of the Royal Siamese Armed Forces
Chom Thap Siam
King Prajadhipok
(Rama VII)
25 November 1925 5 December 1925[7][8][9] 2 March 1935
30 May 1941
Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces
Chom Thap Thai
King Ananda Mahidol
(Rama VIII)
2 March 1935 No presentation made 9 June 1946
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
(Rama IX)
9 June 1946 26 March 1950[10] 13 October 2016
King Vajiralongkorn
(Rama X)
13 October 2016 Incumbent


See also

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