Thailand’s Yellow-Ribbon Coup – Chiang Mai, Thailand, SE Asia

Do not adjust the color on your television. There are no smudges on your screen. What you saw on the news was not an illusion. When the Thai Military stages a coup, they do it with style and panache. It’s true! Their colorful fashion sense may actually be the reason no shots were fired during the uprising.

Coup d’état
Coup d’état

Only in a Buddhist country would soldiers roll in for a with decorative yellow ribbons tied to their guns. Yellow flowers on lapels and coordinated armbands were all the rage. Is it any wonder so many people love this Kingdom?

Exactly what is the story behind all that yellow? Is it military policy to “Tie a yellow ribbon round the old AK?” Who decides coup fashion? Oddly enough, respect is the Blackwell of Thai military style. It’s perfectly simple.

You see, in Thailand different colors represent different days of the week. Yellow is for Mondays and Monday was the day on which His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born. Thus, yellow is his royal color. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a fabulous king and highly revered by his people. All across his kingdom flags and banners glow like sunshine to honor His Royal Highness.

This year Yellow Fever was taken a step further. The year, 2006, marks the sixtieth anniversary of the king’s ascension to the thrown. He’s the world's longest-serving monarch. (Elizabeth II is second longest, but she’s more of a beige gal.) Because of the anniversary, Thais wear yellow shirts each Monday as a sign of loyalty and respect for His Majesty.

The yellow polo-style shirts with the king’s crest are so popular that there have been accusations of price gouging and temporary shirt shortages. This left many Thais feeling blue – the queen’s color. Others were just green with envy.

Picture this scenario. You’re in the grocery store when you suddenly have an urgent mango question. You turn to look for an employee only to realize it’s Monday. As you stare across the sea of mulling yellow shirts, you know all is lost. There is no way to tell the staff from the customers.

Yes, yellow is taken quite seriously in Thailand. It’s definitely this year’s new black .So when soldiers pulled into Bangkok with yellow adornments on their weaponry; there was a message, beyond simply looking dapper. “We are here with all respect for our King.”

By the time international news crews touched down to cover the blood-red carnage, children were climbing on the tanks, vendors brought ice cream out to the troops, tourists posed beside military equipment, and florists handed out roses to the soldiers – yellow roses. Yes, it was the calm before the calm or, as one reporter put it, “This is the most relaxed coup I have ever witnessed.” Must be Mellow Yellow.

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