History of King Norodom Sihamoni

Norodom Sihamoni is the King of Cambodia. He is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. Previously Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO; he was named by a nine-member throne council to become the next king after his father Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in 2004. Before ascending the throne, Sihamoni was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor.

Sihamoni was born in 1953. At the time of his birth and that of his younger brother, his mother, a Cambodian citizen of Italian and Khmer ancestry, had been one of King Norodom Sihanouk's constant companions since the day they met in 1951, when a young Monique Izzi won first prize in a beauty contest sponsored by UNESCO.

She soon become one of the most enduring and stable influences in Sihanouk's life, and is often referred to as a "tower of strength" by close members of the Cambodian Royal Family. She was granted the title of Neak Moneang at the time of her marriage to King Norodom Sihanouk in 1952.

(A step-granddaughter of the late Prince Norodom Duongchak of Cambodia, Queen Monineath is a daughter of Pomme Peang and her second husband, Jean-Fran Izzi, a French-Italian banker.) The Royal Ark website entry about the genealogy of the Cambodian royal family states that Sihanouk and Monineath were married twice, once on 12 April 1952, when she was 15, and again ("more formally", according to the website) on 5 March 1955; she is described as Sihanouk's seventh wife.


King Norodom Sihamoni has 14 half-brothers and half-sisters by his father's various relationships; his only full sibling, a younger brother, HRH Samdech Norodom Narindrapong (born 1954) died in 2003.
He has spent most of his life outside Cambodia. As a child, Sihamoni was sent to Prague, Czechoslovakia, by his father in 1962, where he, while attending elementary school, high school and Academy of Music Arts, studied classical dance and music until 1975. 


He is fluent in French and Czech, as well as being a good speaker of English and Russian. During the 1970 coup d'tat by Lon Nol, Sihamoni remained in Czechoslovakia. In 1975, he left Prague and began to study filmmaking in North Korea, and in 1977 returned to his native Cambodia. Immediately, the ruling Khmer Rouge government turned against the monarchy, and Sihamoni was put under house arrest by the Khmer Rouge with the rest of the royal family until the 1979 Vietnamese invasion.


In 1981, he moved to France to teach ballet and was later president of the Khmer Dance Association. He lived in France for nearly 20 years, but even then he regularly visited Prague, where he spent his childhood and youth. He is the only ruling monarch who speaks Czech.


In 1993, the prince was appointed Cambodia's delegate to UNESCO, the UN cultural body based in Paris, where he became known for his hard work and his devotion to Cambodian culture. He previously refused an appointment as Cambodia's ambassador to France.

On 14 October 2004, he was selected by a special nine-member council, part of a selection process that was quickly put in place after the surprise abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk a week before. Sihamoni's selection was endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly Speaker Prince Norodom Ranariddh (the new king's brother), both members of the privy council. 


He was inaugurated and formally anointed as King on Friday, 29 October 2004. King Sihamoni and his parents, King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath specifically requested that the ceremonies be kept low-key because they did not wish for the impoverished country to spend too much money on the event.
The original gold and diamond encrusted crown, a sacred symbol of Mount Meru, used in official coronation ceremonies in Cambodia for centuries dating back to the ancient Angkorian Empire, disappeared along with many other items of Royal Regalia during the Lon Nol regime in the early 1970s. As stated by Julio A. Jeldres, King Father Norodom Sihanouk's official biographer, "The King did not want a crown remade because of Cambodia's poverty."

 

Education Background

♦  1959-1962: Primary schooling at the Norodom school and then at the Descartes high school in Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

♦  1962-1967: Primary and Secondary schooling at Prague's high school (Czechoslovakia)

♦  1967-1971: Dance, music and theatre courses at the National Conservatory of Prague

♦  1970: High school certificate -Prague (with "very good" marks)

♦  1971: First prize course of classical dance of the National Conservatory of Prague

♦  1971-1975: Higher dance, music and theatre courses, Academy of Musical Art of Prague

♦  1975: Graduated from the Academy of Musical Art of Prague

♦  1975: Author of a thesis on the conception and administration of artistic schools in Cambodia

♦  1975-1976: Higher studies of Cinematography in the D.P.R. of Korea

♦  1976-1979: Prisoner of the Khmer Rouge along with his parents and his younger brother, H.R.H Prince Norodom NarinDrapong

♦  1979-1980: Served his father in exile abroad as his Private Secretary

♦  1981-2000: Professor of classical dance and artistic pedagogy at the Marius Petipa conservatory, the Gabriel Faure conservatory and the   W.A. Mozart conservatory of the city of Paris

♦  1984-1988: President of the Khmer dance association in France and director general and artistic director of the ballet group "Deva"

♦  1988-1993: Director general and artistic director of the Khmer cinematographic corporation "Khemara Pictures". H.M. Norodom Sihamoni, then Prince, has produced two creations (Ballet-Films): Dream and the 4 Elements

♦  1992-1993: Chosen unanimously by the members of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia to be permanent representative of Cambodia to the United Nations

♦  1993-2004: Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Unesco

♦  2004: Member of the High Council of French-Speaking Countries (Francophonie)

♦  1st Feb 1994: Elevated by H.M. the King to the rank of Sdech Krom Khun (Great Prince)

♦  17 Oct 2003: Appointed high privy Councillor to His Majesty the King

♦  31 Aug 2004: Elevated by H.M the King to the Rank of SAMDECH PREAH BAROMNEATH

♦  14 Oct 2004: Elected unanimously by the members of the throne council as King of Cambodia to succeed his august father who has decided to retire

♦  Languages: Khmer, fluent in French and Czech, good English and Russian

Decorations:    

—  Grand cross of the Royal order of Cambodia

—  Grand cross of the Royal order of Monisaraphon (Cambodia)

—  Grand officer of the legion d'honneur (France)

Silver medal of the city of Paris (France)

History of King Norodom Sihanouk (King Farther)

 

King Norodom Sihanouk was born on October 31, 1922, in Phnom Penh; son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak.
The King commented his formal education in a Phnom Penh primary school, the Ecole Francois Baudoin. He continued his secondary education in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam and military school in Saumur, France.
When his uncle, King Sisowath Monivong, died on April 23, 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk king of Cambodia. He was crowned in September 1941.
After World War II and into the early 1950s, king Sihanouk developed more of a nationalist approach and began demanding that the French leave the country. He went into exile to Thailand in 1952 and refused to reenter Cambodia until it was independent. He returned when Cambodia was granted full independence on November 9, 1953.
In March 1955, he abdicated in favor of his father. A few months later he became the prime minister. At the death of his father in 1960, Prince Sihanouk was elected head of state. He held this position until he was overthrown in a coup in March 1970. After the coup Prince Sihanouk fled to Beijing and organized forces to resist the Lon Nol government in Phnom Penh. When the Khmer Republic fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975, Prince Sihanouk became the head of state. Within a year he forced out of office and went into political retirement. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 and ousted the Khmer Rouge. 

Although wary of the Khmer Rouge, Prince Sihanouk eventually joined forces with them in order to provide a united front against the Vietnamese occupiers. In 1982, he became president of the coalition government of Democratic Kampuchea, which consisted of his FUNCINPEC, Son Sann's KPNLF and Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989 and left behind a pro-Vietnamese government under Prime Minister Hun Sen. 

The peace negotiation between CGDK and PRK lasted until 1991 when all sides agreed to a comprehensive peace settlement which was signed in Paris. Prince Sihanouk returned to Cambodia in Nov 1991 after thirteen years in exile. In 1993, he was reinstated as king of Cambodia.