Royal clothing advice

10 06 2011

Just in case readers missed it, and PPT can’t find it electronically – in the continuing silliness about what constitutes “Thai tradition,” the Bangkok Post (print edition, 8 June 2011, p. 4) has a short note that is, well, bizarre.

As the balmy Ministry of Culture worries about topless dancers and religious tattoos on the “wrong” bodies, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has come up with a screwy order for its officials. The Post reports that “officials will wear Thai-style outfits made of Thai cloth at least once a week…”. Indeed, Cabinet, filled with men and a couple of women all suited up, has “acknowledged” the Ministry’s “campaign to promote traditional Thai-style outfits among civil servants.”

One imagines shirtless men sitting and laying about on the floor, chewing betel, while clothed only in a loin cloth/pha nung or maybe some Chinese trousers. After all, that was “traditional” for some time for kha ratchakan, many of who conducted official business in their own homes.

But we imagine what is meant is the very non-traditional/recently invented tradition displayed at this Wikipedia page. Readers will notice that this page is all about royally-endorsed fashion. And sure enough, the Post story confirms that the Ministry has taken this fully-clothed plunge because “the Queen has said ‘Foreigners have asked why Thai men love to wear suits, not the Thai-styled long sleeve shirt with five buttons. That kind of shirt is nice and suits the Thai climate’.”

It seems the queen is pining for the days when the ever-reliable Prem Tinsulanonda made his fashion statement in this kind of dress. As the Wikipedia page says, the “suea phraratchathan (เสื้อพระราชทาน, lit. royally bestowed shirt) … was designed to serve as a national costume by royal tailors … for King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1979, and was subsequently given to General Prem Tinsulanonda, then the Minister of Defence, to promote and wear in public.”

PPT reckons that this trend, even if symbolic of the great pressure for the ever greater promotion of the royals and their every utterance, no matter how trite, is unlikely to take off.




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