The current Thai anthem is actually the latest of many used in the history of the country, although few have enjoyed the longevity the current anthem has.
The notion of a Thai (or Siamese, as Thailand was then known as Siam) anthem was first raised in 1871, when the king, upon visiting the British colony of Singapore, noticed that the British had a national anthem, so one should be made for his country. The first anthem, written by Phraya Sri Sunthornvoharn and entitled “Jom Raj Jong Charoen” (Long Live the King), was derived from an anthem written by two British officers who trained the military band. This anthem proved unpopular, and the second, “Bulan Loy Luen” (Moving Moon), was composed and written by King Rama II.
The third anthem, “Phleng Sansasoen Phra Barami” (A Salute to the Monarch) is still in use today as the royal anthem, but it ceased being the national anthem after the 1932 coup. A short lived song, “Chart Mahachai” was the national anthem for a while, but the coup planners wanted to have the composer Peter Feit (known in Thailand as Phra Jenduriyang) compse an anthem for the citizenry in the spirit of “La Marseillaise”. With lyrics by Khun Wichitmatra the new anthem was played for the first time in July, 1932, and the lyrics were subsequently rewritten two years later by Chan Kamwilai. When the nation’s name was changed to Thailand from Siam in 1939, it was decided new lyrics should be written, and the lyrics by Luang Saranuprapan won the contest and remain the lyrics today. It was also ordered around this time that the anthem must be played every day at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. when the national flag is also to be raised and lowered. The citizens must stand and show respect for the nation when the anthem is heard. This law remains in force today.
Special thanks to: Artakorn Jarusriwanna for providing me with the sheet music and to Klaus Caussmacher for some of the information.