Norodom Sihamoni (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហមុនី, born 14 May 1953) is the current reigning King of Cambodia. He is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. His name is derived from the first syllables of his parents' names.
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.
During the Khmer Rouge's four-year genocidal regime, which resulted in the deaths of more than a million people, King Sihamoni - along with most of his family - was kept under house arrest in the palace in Phnom Penh.
Shortly after the Khmer Rouge fell to Vietnamese forces in 1979, King Sihamoni left Cambodia for France, where he pursued his love of classical dance at some of the leading conservatories in Paris.
In 1992 he was given the position of Cambodia's ambassador to Unesco, a post he held until earlier this year, when he moved to Beijing to look after his ailing father.
The first indication that King Sihamoni might succeed to the throne came at an Independence Day ceremony in 2002, when he deputised for the king.
His presence came as a surprise to government officials and diplomats at the event, who saw it as a sign that Sihanouk was introducing his preferred candidate.
King Sihamoni is so far seen as relatively pliant, which will suit Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has dominated Cambodian politics for the past two decades.
Cambodia, with a population of 14.8 million and a GDP of USD 2,100.00, is one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia.
- Under the current constitution King Sihamoni has no real power;
- Before he became King he was best known for his work in Europe as a cultural ambassador and a classical dance instructor;
- He spent most of his childhood outside of Cambodia;
- He is one of the only ruling monarchs who speaks Czech. He also speaks French, English, and Russian;
- He and his family have requested royal ceremonies to be low-key events because they do not wish to affect the impoverished country with spending too much money;
- He has not had a new crown remade because of Cambodia’s poverty, after many of the crown jewels and other royal regalia disappeared during the Lon Nol regime in the 1970s;
- He remains a bachelor and has no children;
The official Royal Residence is the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh. It was constructed over a century ago and hosts all major ceremonial functions of the country. Foreign dignitaries stay there too.
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