Next Monday is a national holiday in Thailand and the second of three for the month of October. The 23 October is Chulalongkorn Day and marks the passing of the fifth Chakri king on this day in 1910. The main branches of banks, post offices and all government offices will be shut for the day. Chulalongkorn Day is usually marked by parades at provincial offices.
In Chiang Mai, some people lay flowers at the Three Kings’ Monument in the Old City. This year’s Chulalongkorn Memorial Day will likely be overshadowed by the forthcoming funeral rites for the ninth Chakri king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The cremation ceremony for King Bhumibol will be held three days later, on the 26 October, in Bangkok. This is also a national holiday and day of mourning.
King Chulalongkorn, who is known as Somdet Phra Piya Maharaj, is regarded as the father of modern Thailand. During his 42-year reign from 1868 he is credited with deeds which including establishing a national legal system and unifying the nation to prevent the encroachment of European colonial powers. Chulalongkorn was the king who featured in the celebrated biographical book ‘Anna and the King of Siam’.
Chiang Mai was a favourite with King Chulalongkorn. Chiang Mai’s Princess Dararasmi was a consort who lived with him for the last 24 years of his life. The Dara Pirom Palace Museum in Maerim is dedicated to the life and times of the princess. The king donated the land on which notable Chiang Mai establishments including McCormick Hospital and the Prince Royal’s College still stand on.