Chakri is the name of the current Thai Royal Family. The Grand Palace became the centre of the Thai government and royal court for most of the early part of the Chakri Dynasty. Later, Kings and Princes moved out of the old Grand Palace into new palaces in different locations in and around Bangkok.
The Chakri Mahaprasad Hall was built by British architects as a royal residence for King Rama IV to commemorate the centennial of the Chakri dynasty. The bottom part of the Chakri Mahaprasad Hall is heavily influenced by Italian renaissance architecture but the roof is firmly traditional Thai architecture. It is an interesting blend that works.
The Thai temple-style roof rests physically and more importantly for the Thai's, symbolically on top of an otherwise European building. The building is saying that in Thailand they are in charge not the European colonial powers. The Thai's are very proud of the fact that they are the only Asian country to escape being occupied by a colonial power.
The Chakri Mahaprasad Hall, the Grand Palace Hall, was once a royal residence. It is now used for important ceremonial occasions such as coronations. Many royal official rituals are performed here by the King every year. Royal ceremonies like coronations, royal funerals, marriages and state banquets are held in this building.
Thai Royal Guard and changing of the guard ceremony
The Thai Royal Guards were established by King Rama V in 1859, when he was still crown prince. In the early days, the Royal Guards were servants with duties such as scaring crows. This lead to them being given the nickname 'Mahardlek Laikar' roughly translated as 'Scarecrow Corps.'
When he succeeded his father in 1868 he formed this unit into a 24-strong Royal Bodyguard. In 1870, the Royal Guard regiment was given the name the 'King's Guard' and their duties included escorting the king while he travelled around the country.
As Siam was threatened by Western expansionism, King Rama V, through his policies and acts, managed to save Siam from being colonized. He tried to give the impression of being a modern country that wanted to co-operate and learn from the west. King Rama V employed British Officers to teach in his Navy and Army colleges.
The armed forces equipment and clothing was modeled on the British example. The British influence can still be seen in the ceremonial uniforms worn today by the Royal Thai Army. If you are lucky you will be able to witness the changing of the Royal Guard ceremony outside the Chakri Mahaprasad Hall. The white uniform and pith helmet are very similar to the tropical uniform of the British Royal Marines.