Palace Rebellion

Thailand's 1949 Palace Rebellion was a failed coup attempt. The aims of its plotters were to overthrow the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram and to restore his main civilian rival Pridi Phanomyong to the Thai political scene.

Pridi had disavowed the use of violence during the immediate aftermath of the 1947 coup,[1] but the frustrations of exile eventually overcame him. Although in China, he still maintained contacts with his supporters in Thailand and, with their help, laid plans for a counter-coup. In the first week of February 1949 he secretly returned to Thailand. Phibun however soon learned of Pridi's intentions, and quickly a radio announcement in which he called Pridi his "friend" was made. He went on to offer Pridi a position in the government, but Pridi decided to go ahead with his plans and the field marshal's overtures were rebuffed.

A state of emergency was declared by the government in anticipation of the counter-coup,[2] which began on February 26. On that day an army officer loyal to Pridi and a group of supporters seized a radio station, and Free Thai elements and Thammasat University teachers and students occupied the Grand Palace. The group at the radio station announced over the air the formation of a new government headed by Pridi's friend Direk Chaiyanam. Major-General Sarit Thanarat then moved in troops and managed to easily oust Pridi from the palace grounds. In the meanwhile the navy and marines took up defensive positions around Bangkok to protect its allies.

The rebels managed to escape in naval vessels across the Chao Phraya River, and navy units engaged the army in fierce street fighting. A ceasefire was declared that afternoon, although it would take the navy and the army a full week to negotiate a resolution to the crisis.[3]


  1. Suchin Tantikun. Ratthapraharn Phor Sor 2490. Social Science Association of Thailand (1972).
  2. Siam Nikorn, February 18, 1949
  3. Thak Chaloemtiarana. Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism. Thammasat University Press (1979).
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