23 May 2024

This year, the traditional procession, during the annual football match between Chulalongkorn and Thammasat universities, will not feature the Phra Kieo coronet, Chulalongkorn University’s emblem, because it is deems it to be representative of a feudal culture and a symbol of inequality.

The executive committee of Chulalongkorn University’s Student Union resolved unanimously to cancel the procession, which has been an integral part of the traditional soccer match for several decades.

In a statement, issued on Saturday, the student union said the Phra Kieo procession, modelled after a Royal court procession, features a female student seated on a palanquin carried by about 50 male students, but the selection of that female student has never been transparent and reflects the elite class with its “social value of physical beauty”, adding that students were also forced to carry the palanquin in exchange for the right to stay at the university’s residences.

“The procession is outdated and goes against the principles of democracy, equality and human rights,” said the statement.

The highlight of this sports event is, however, not the soccer game itself, but an exhibition of political satire and caricatures, mocking political characters and events of the year.

In the past, a coronet was worn by Thai princes and princesses. It became the emblem of Chulalongkorn University when King Rama VI named the university in memory of his father and university founder, King Rama V.  King Rama VI granted permission for the Phra Kieo to be used as the emblem for the Civil Service College, which later became Chulalongkorn University.

The Phra Kieo, enshrined in the CU Memorial Hall, is a replica made in 1976, after permission was granted by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who anointed the replica and bestowed it on the university during a graduation ceremony in 1989.