December 10 is a public holiday in Thailand to commemorate Constitution Day. The significance of the date goes back to 1932 and a time of great upheaval in Siam (the former name for Thailand) which resulted in the end of the absolute monarchy.
In the early 1930s, the Siamese economy was suffering from the effects of the Great Depression and the monarch, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), was seen by some as too young and inexperienced to deal with the various problems facing the country. In June 1932, a bloodless coup was led by a group of intellectuals and military men known as the People’s Party. An ultimatum and a provisional constitution was presented to the king. Despite an initial refusal, the king did sign the charter and in doing so ended the absolute monarchy in Siam. Internal disputes amongst the People’s Party and opposition from the Palace resulted in a new and revised permanent constitution being agreed which was duly signed by King Rama VII on December 10, 1932. The monarchy would no longer have any say in government and instead would be a constitutional monarchy. However, the sacred and inviolable nature of the monarchy was established.
Since 1932, Thailand has seen numerous coups and political changes which has resulted in new charters and constitutions. Nevertheless, every charter and constitution has noted the special role of the monarchy in which the king is recognised as the Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces and Upholder of All Religions.