Norodom Sihamoni

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Norodom Sihamoni
នរោត្ដម សីហមុនី
King Norodom Sihamoni (2019).jpg
King Sihamoni in 2019
King of Cambodia
Reign14 October 2004 – present
Coronation29 October 2004
PredecessorNorodom Sihanouk
Prime MinisterHun Sen
Born (1953-05-14) 14 May 1953 (age 68)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, French Indochina
FatherNorodom Sihanouk
MotherNorodom Monineath
ReligionTheravada Buddhism
SignatureNorodom Sihamoni នរោត្ដម សីហមុនី's signature
Alma materAcademy of Performing Arts in Prague
WebsiteOfficial website

Norodom Sihamoni (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហមុនី, Nôroŭdám Seihămŭni [nɔroːɗɑm səjhamuni]; born 14 May 1953 is the King of Cambodia. He became King on 14 October 2004, a week after the abdication of his father, Norodom Sihanouk.[1] He is the eldest son of King Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath. He was Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO and 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 educated in Czechoslovakia and was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor.

Early life[edit]

Prince Sihamoni with his half-sister Norodom Buppha Devi receiving a bouquet of flowers from US Senator Mike Mansfield in 1969.

Sihamoni was born in 1953. His given name, Sihamoni, comprises two morphemes from his parents' given names, Sihanouk and Monineath. At the time of his birth and that of his younger brother, his mother Monique Izzi, a Khmer citizen of French, Corsican and Khmer ancestry, had been one of King Norodom Sihanouk's consorts after being a constant companion since the day they met in 1951, when she won first prize in a national beauty contest.[2]

She was granted the title of Neak Moneang and the name of Monineath at the time of her marriage to King Norodom Sihanouk in 1952. Furthermore, Queen Monineath is a step-granddaughter of the late Prince Norodom Duongchak of Cambodia, and the daughter of Pomme Peang and of her second husband, Jean-François Izzi, a Corsican banker.[3]

Sihamoni has 14 half-brothers and half-sisters by his father; his only full sibling, a younger brother, Samdech Norodom Narindrapong, was born in 1954 and died in 2003.

King Norodom Sihamoni meeting with South Korean president Lee Myung-bak at the Royal Palace in 2009.
King Norodom Sihamoni met with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe during the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, Tokyo, 22 October 2019.

Studies and life abroad[edit]

He has spent most of his life outside Cambodia. In 1962 the young Sihamoni was sent to Prague, in then Czechoslovakia, by his father. During the 1970 coup d'état by Lon Nol, Sihamoni remained in Czechoslovakia. He completed elementary and secondary education in the country and studies in classical dance and music at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1975. As he spent almost his entire childhood and youth in Prague, the king is fluent in Czech. A movie directed by Vladimir Sís was shot about the prince in Prague in 1967, under the name "The Other Little Prince (Jiný malý princ).[4]

After graduation in 1975 he left Prague and began to study filmmaking in North Korea, and in 1977 returned to Cambodia.[5] Immediately, the ruling Khmer Rouge government turned against the monarchy, and put the royal family including Sihamoni under house arrest until the 1979 Vietnamese invasion, due to the invasion of the Khmer Rouge into Vietnamese territories and killing innocent Vietnamese civilians.

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, regularly visiting Prague, where he had spent his childhood and youth.

In 1993 the prince was appointed Cambodia's delegate to UNESCO in Paris, where he became known for his hard work and his devotion to Cambodian culture. He had previously refused an appointment as Cambodia's ambassador to France.[6]


Besides his native Khmer, Norodom Sihamoni speaks Czech fluently, the only ruling monarch in the world to do so.[7] The king is also fluent in French and is a conversational speaker of English and Russian.


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 half-brother), both members of the privy council. He was inaugurated and formally appointed as King on 29 October 2004.[8]

King Sihamoni and his parents, King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, specifically requested that the ceremonies not be lavish because they did not wish the impoverished country to spend too much money on the event. On 29 October 2014, there were celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of his coronation.[9]

Sihamoni remains unmarried and has no children. His father Norodom Sihanouk stated that Sihamoni "loves women as his sisters".[10]


Styles of
The King of Cambodia
Royal Standard of the King of Cambodia.svg
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

Before he was crowned king, his royal title was: Sdech Krom Khun (Khmer: ស្តេចក្រុមឃុន), equating him to the rank of "Great Prince". As king, his title is: Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdach Preah Bâromneath Norodom Sihamoni Saman Bhumichat Sasana Rakkhata Khattiya Khmeraratrat Putthintra Mohaksat Khemareacheana Samuhobhas Kampuchea Ekareacharath Bureanasanti Subheamagala Sirivibunla Khmera Sri Bireat Preah Chao Krung Kampuchea Dhibodi (in romanized Khmer); Khmer: ព្រះករុណាព្រះបាទសម្តេចព្រះបរមនាថ នរោត្តម សីហមុនី សមានភូមិជាតិសាសនា រក្ខតខត្តិយា ខេមរារដ្ឋរាស្ត្រ ពុទ្ធិន្ទ្រាធរាមមហាក្សត្រ ខេមរាជនា សមូហោភាស កម្ពុជឯករាជរដ្ឋបូរណសន្តិ សុភមង្គលា សិរីវិបុលា ខេមរាស្រីពិរាស្ត្រ ព្រះចៅក្រុងកម្ពុជាធិបតី roughly translating to: "His Merciful Excellent Majesty Protector, King Norodom Sihamoni, who unites the nation, religion, realms, and people of Khmer state, the great king who is supported by Buddha and Indra, the protector of independence, unification, and peace, the Great King of the Kingdom of Cambodia".

Advisory court[edit]

On 12 December 2008, Sihamoni selected twenty-six members of the Cambodian royal family to his advisory court, among them his half-brother Prince Norodom Ranariddh as chief advisor. Other choices included Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Princess Norodom Marie (estranged wife of Prince Ranariddh) and Prince Sisowath Thomico.[11]


Cambodia had no lèse-majesté laws until recently. In February 2018, Cambodia's National Assembly passed new legislation making it an offence to insult the king.[12]

Some Cambodian opposition figures have criticized the acquiescence of the king, describing him as too lenient towards Hun Sen's decades-long authoritarian rule in the kingdom.[13][14]




Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ "People and Society ::Cambodia".
  2. ^ "The First Lady of the Kingdom"; The Royal House of Cambodia by Julio A. Jeldres, 2003 OCLC 54003889
  3. ^ King's biography Archived 27 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Movie "The Other Little Prince"
  5. ^ "The Only Monarch in the World Who Speaks Czech Fluently | Tres Bohemes". Everything Czech | by Tres Bohemes. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  6. ^ The Weekend Australian, 16–17 October 2004
  7. ^ King Sihamoni of Cambodia receives warm welcome in Prague, Radio Prague, 20 September 2006
  8. ^ "In Pictures: King Sihamoni's coronation". BBC News. 29 October 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  9. ^ Willemyns, Alex (29 October 2014). "10 Years into Sihamoni's Reign, A Changed Palace". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  10. ^ Hutt, David. "The Real Danger of Cambodia's 'Gay King' Episode". Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  11. ^ More royals could face political exit Phnom Penh Post, 12 December 2008
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Embassy of Cambodia
  16. ^ Sobola, Marek (2017). Príbeh svätojánsky, Socha sv. Jána Nepomuckého v Divine / The Story of St. John, Statue of St. John of Nepomuk in Divina / ដំណើររឿងរបស់ St. John, រូបចម្លាក់ St. John Nepomuk នៅក្រុង Divina / Die Johannisgeschichte, Die Staute des hl. Johannes Nepomuk in Divina / Историята на св. Ян, Статуята на св. Ян Непомуцки в Дивина. Slovakia: Servare et Manere, o. z. & Kysucké múzeum v Čadci. pp. 74–76. ISBN 978-80-972614-3-6.
  17. ^ "Biskup Galis požehnal obnovenú sochu sv. Jána Nepomuckého v Divine". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d "BIOGRAPHY OF HIS MAJESTY KING NORODOM SIHAMONI OF CAMBODIA". Khmer Times. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Miroslav Nožina, Jiří Šitler, and Karel Kučera. Royal Ties: King Norodom Sihamoni and the History of Czech-Cambodian Relations. Prague: Knižní klub, 2006. ISBN 978-80-86938-75-2

External links[edit]

Norodom Sihamoni
Born: 14 May 1953
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Norodom Sihanouk
King of Cambodia