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"Sihanouk" redirects here. For the province named after King Sihanouk, see Sihanoukville.
|King of Cambodia|
|Reign||25 April 1941 – 3 March 1955|
|Coronation||3 May 1941|
|Reign||24 September 1993 – 7 October 2004|
|Coronation||24 September 1993|
|Predecessor||Chea Sim (Regent)|
|House||House of Norodom|
|Born||31 October 1922|
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
|Died||15 October 2012 (aged 89)|
|1st Prime Minister of Cambodia|
17 November 1961 – 13 February 1962
|Preceded by||Penn Nouth|
|Succeeded by||Nhiek Tioulong (acting)|
10 July 1958 – 19 April 1960
|Preceded by||Sim Var|
|Succeeded by||Pho Proeung|
9 April 1957 – 7 July 1957
|Preceded by||Sam Yun|
|Succeeded by||Sim Var|
15 September 1956 – 15 October 1956
|Preceded by||Khim Tit|
|Succeeded by||Sam Yun|
1 March 1956 – 24 March 1956
|Preceded by||Oum Chheang Sun|
|Succeeded by||Khim Tit|
3 October 1955 – 5 January 1956
|Preceded by||Leng Ngeth|
|Succeeded by||Oum Chheang Sun|
7 April 1954 – 18 April 1954
|Preceded by||Chan Nak|
|Succeeded by||Penn Nouth|
16 June 1952 – 24 January 1953
|Preceded by||Huy Kanthoul|
|Succeeded by||Penn Nouth|
28 April 1950 – 30 May 1950
|Preceded by||Yem Sambaur|
|Succeeded by||Sisowath Monipong|
18 March 1945 – 13 August 1945
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Son Ngoc Thanh|
|Leader of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum|
24 March 1955 – 18 March 1970
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||None (party dissolved)|
|Head of State of Cambodia|
14 June 1993 – 24 September 1993
|Preceded by||Chea Sim|
as Chairman of the Council of State
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
20 June 1960 – 18 March 1970
|Preceded by||Chuop Hell (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Cheng Heng|
as President of the Khmer Republic
|President of the State Presidium ofDemocratic Kampuchea|
17 April 1975 – 11 April 1976
|Preceded by||Sak Sutsakhan|
as Chairman of the Supreme Committee
|Succeeded by||Khieu Samphan|
|Political party||FUNCINPEC (1981–1993)|
|Alma mater||Armoured Cavalry Branch Training School|
|Profession||Politician, actor, author, film director|
Norodom Sihanouk (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហនុ; 31 October 1922 – 15 October 2012) was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2005. He was the effective ruler of Cambodia from 1953 to 1970. After his second abdication in 2004, he was known as "The King-Father of Cambodia" (Khmer: Preahmâhaviraksat), a position in which he retained many of his former responsibilities as constitutional monarch.
The son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak, Sihanouk held so many positions since 1941 that the Guinness Book of World Records identifies him as the politician who has served the world's greatest variety of political offices. These included two terms as king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments-in-exile. He served as puppet head of state for the Khmer Rouge government in 1975–1976.
Most of these positions were only honorific, including the last position as constitutional king of Cambodia. Sihanouk's actual period of effective rule over Cambodia was from 9 November 1953, when Cambodia gained its independence from France, until 18 March 1970, when General Lon Nol and the National Assembly deposed him.
Sihanouk received his primary education in a Phnom Penh primary school. He pursued his secondary education in Saigon at Lycée Chasseloup Laubat until his coronation and then later attended Cavalry military school in Saumur, France. When his maternal grandfather, King Sisowath Monivong, died on 23 April 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk as King of Cambodia. At that time, the French protectorate of Cambodia was part of French Indochina, ruled by the Axis collaborationist Vichy government. His coronation took place on 3 May 1941. In March 1945, the Empire of Japan, which had occupied Cambodia but allowed the French colonial administration to remain, dissolved the colonial administration and took control of French Indochina. Under pressure from the Japanese, Sihanouk proclaimed Cambodia's independence. Unlike the Vietnamese Emperor Bảo Đại, Sihanouk was careful not to compromise himself too much in collaboration with Japan. The Japanese imposed Son Ngoc Thanh as foreign minister then, in August, as prime minister of Cambodia. After Japan's surrender, the French gradually retook control of French Indochina.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
Norodom Sihanouk became Cambodia's first Prime Minister in 1945, at the age of 22 years, 138 days.
After World War II and into the early 1950s, King Sihanouk's aspirations became much more nationalistic and he began demanding independence from the French colonists and their complete departure from Indochina. This echoed the sentiments of the other fledgling nations of French Indochina: the State of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the Kingdom of Laos. He went into exile in Thailand in May 1953 because of threats on his life by the French and only returned when independence was won on 9 November 1953. Whilst independent, Cambodia retained an alliance with the French Union, until the end of the First Indochina Warand the subsequent official end of French Indochina.
On 2 March 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favour of his father, established the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (People's Socialist Community) and took the post of Prime Minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary electionson September 1955.
On 31 August 1959, Ngo Dinh Nhu, the younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, failed in an attempt to assassinate Sihanouk. He ordered his agents to send parcel bombs to the Cambodian leader in retaliation for the foiled Sam Sary and Dap Chhuon plots, in which Nhu was also a participant. Nhu strongly disagreed with Sihanouk's foreign policy and hoped, with Sihanouk eliminated, he could install Son Ngoc Thanh in Phnom Penh. Two suitcases were delivered to Sihanouk's palace, one addressed to the head of state, and the other to Prince Vakrivan, his head of protocol. The deliveries were labelled as originating from an American engineer who had worked in Cambodia and purported to contain gifts from Hong Kong. Sihanouk's package contained a bomb, but the other did not; however, Vakrivan opened both on behalf of the monarch, and he and a servant were killed instantly. The explosion happened adjacent to a room in the palace where Sihanouk's parents were present.
Following his father's death in 1960, Sihanouk won general election as head of state, but received the title of Prince rather than King. In 1963, he made a change in the constitution that made him head of state for life. While he was not king, he had created a constitutional office for himself that was exactly equal to that of the former kingship.
When the Vietnam War raged, Sihanouk promoted policies that he claimed to preserve Cambodia's neutrality and most importantly security. Pressures upon his government from all sides in the conflict were immense, and his overriding concern was to prevent Cambodia from being drawn into a wider regional war. In so doing he made difficult choices of alliances in pursuit of the least dangerous course of action, within a political environment where genuine neutrality was likely impossible at the time.
In the spring of 1965, he made a pact with the People's Republic of China and North Vietnam to allow the presence of permanent North Vietnamese bases in eastern Cambodia and to allow military supplies from China to reach Vietnam by Cambodian ports. Cambodia and Cambodian individuals were compensated by Chinese purchases of the Cambodian rice crop at inflated prices. He also at this time made many speeches calling the triumph of communism in Southeast Asia inevitable and suggesting Maoist ideas were worthy of emulation.
Sihanouk also developed a friendship with North Korean leader Kim Il-sung as the two shared common views on opposing US foreign policy in Asia. They would remain extremely close until the latter's death in 1994, and during the years of exile in the 80s, divided his time between Beijing and Pyongyang.
In 1966 and 1967, Sihanouk unleashed a wave of political repression that drove many on the left out of mainstream politics. His policy of friendship with China collapsed due to the extreme attitudes in China at the peak of the Cultural Revolution. The combination of political repression and problems with China made his balancing act impossible to sustain. He had alienated the left, allowed the North Vietnamese to establish bases within Cambodia and staked everything on China's good will. On 11 March 1967, a revolt in Battambang Province led to the Cambodian Civil War.
Deposition, exile, and return
On 18 March 1970, while Sihanouk was visiting Moscow, Prime Minister Lon Nolconvened the National Assembly which voted to depose Sihanouk as head of state and gave Lon Nol emergency powers. Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak, Sihanouk's cousin who had been passed over by the French government in 1941, retained his post as Deputy Prime Minister. The new Khmer Republic was immediately recognized by the United States. Soviet leaders immediately informed their guest of the bad news.
After he was deposed, Sihanouk fled to Beijing, formed the National United Front of Kampuchea (Front Uni National du Kampuchéa – FUNK) and began to support theKhmer Rouge in their struggle to overthrow the Lon Nol government in Phnom Penh. He initiated the Gouvernement Royal d'Union Nationale du Kampuchéa (Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea), which included Khmer Rouge leaders. After Sihanouk showed his support for the Khmer Rouge by visiting them in the field, their ranks swelled from 6,000 to 50,000 fighters. Many of the new recruits for the Khmer Rouge were apolitical peasants who fought in support of the King, not for communism, of which they had little understanding. King Sihanouk would later argue (1979) that the monarchy being abolished, he was only fighting for his country's independence, "even if [his] country had to be Communist." During Lon Nol's regime, Sihanouk mostly lived in exile in North Korea, where a 60-room palatial residence, which even had a cinema, was built for him. He would return to his Pyongyang palace after the 1979 Vietnamese invasion. Sihanouk preferred to spend the winter months in North Korea as he found Beijing's air pollution unbearable in cold weather.
Khmer Rouge captivity
When the Khmer Republic fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975, Prince Sihanouk became the symbolic head of state of the new régime while Pol Pot held power. Sihanouk, whose desire was to be a retired country gentleman and perhaps 'a public relations man for [his] country and have [...] jazz parties and do some filming' was to spend the next few years as a hostage of the Khmer Rouge. The next year, on 4 April 1976, the Khmer Rouge forced Sihanouk out of office again and into political retirement. During the Vietnamese invasion he was sent to New York to speak against Vietnam before the United Nations. After his speech, he sought refuge in China and in North Korea.
The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 ousted the Khmer Rouge. While welcoming the ousting of the Khmer Rouge government, Sihanouk remained firmly opposed to the Vietnamese-installed Heng Samrin government of People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Hence, Sihanouk demanded Cambodia's seat in the UN be left vacant, since neither Pol Pot regime nor Heng Samrin represented the Khmer people. Although claiming to be wary of the Khmer Rouge and demanding that the Khmer Rouge representatives that still held Cambodia's UN seat be expelled, Sihanouk again joined forces with them in order to provide a united front against the Vietnamese occupation, some believe because of US pressure to work with the Khmer Rouge. In 1982 he moved completely into opposition against the Vietnam-supported government, becoming President of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which consisted of his own Armée Nationale Sihanoukiste (ANS), Son Sann's Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF), and the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989, leaving behind a pro-Vietnamese government under ex-Khmer Rouge cadre Hun Sen to run the PRK.
United States support
Despite his denunciations of American foreign policy and close ties with the US's sworn enemy in North Korea, Sihanouk did end up receiving a degree of support from Washington in the 1980s due to being an opponent of Vietnam and by proxy its Soviet ally. One of the Reagan Doctrine's principal architects, the Heritage Foundation's Michael Johns, visited Sihanouk's forces in Cambodia in 1987, and returned to Washington urging expanding U.S. support for the KPLNF and Sihanouk's resistance forces as a third alternative to both the Vietnamese-installed and supported Cambodian government and the Khmer Rouge, which was also resisting the government.
Restoration as King
Peace negotiations between the CGDK and the PRK commenced shortly thereafter and continued until 1991 when all sides agreed to a comprehensive settlement which they signed in Paris. Prince Sihanouk returned once more to Cambodia on 14 November 1991 after 13 years in exile, accompanied by a squad of North Korean bodyguards.
In 1993, Sihanouk once again became King of Cambodia. But he was now past the age of 70 and his health starting to fail him, so he often spent time in China for medical treatment.
Sihanouk was interested in music; he composed and frequently performed songs in the Khmer, French, and English languages. He played the clarinet, the saxophone, the pianoand the accordion. From an early age, he had a passion for cinema as well as art, theatre, and dance. He became a prodigious filmmaker, writing, directing (and acting in) many films which were largely fictional, always with an underlying theme of documenting life and historical events in Cambodia.
His 1966 film La Forêt Enchantée ("The Enchanted Forest", "Prei Proseth" in Khmer) was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival in 1967.
Self-exile and abdication
In 2004, the now 82-year old Sihanouk decided to move out of Cambodia, taking up residence in Pyongyang, North Korea, and later in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Citing reasons of ill health, he announced his abdication from the throne on 7 October 2004. Sihanouk was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma in his prostate in 1993; the disease recurred in his stomach in 2005, and a new cancer was found in December 2008. Sihanouk also suffered from diabetes and hypertension.
The constitution of Cambodia has no provision for an abdication. Chea Sim, the President of the Senate, assumed the title of acting Head of State (a title he has held many times before), until the Throne Council met on 14 October and appointed Norodom Sihamoni, one of Sihanouk's sons, as the new king. The elderly Sihanouk was then proclaimed asHis Majesty The King Father of Cambodia.
Despite his illness, Sihanouk made his last public appearance in Phnom Penh on 30 October 2011, to celebrate his 89th birthday and 20th anniversary of his homecoming.
Main article: Death and state funeral of Norodom Sihanouk
Sihanouk had been receiving medical treatment in Beijing since January, 2012 for a number of health problems, including colon cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. He died of a heart attack in Beijing, on 15 October 2012, 16 days before what would have been his 90th birthday. State flags flew athalf-mast, and King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen went to Beijing to bring home Sihanouk's body for a funeral at the Royal Palace.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, Sihanouk's assistant and nephew, said "his death was a great loss to Cambodia," adding that Sihanouk had dedicated his life "for the sake of his entire nation, country and for the Cambodian people." United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also commented, acknowledging Sihanouk's "long dedication to his country and his legacy as a unifying national leader who is revered by Cambodians and respected internationally." After Sihanouk's death, the National Television of Kampuchea repeatedly screened a 30-minute documentary about his life. 100,000 Cambodians were expected to line the route from the airport to the Royal Palace for the return of Sihanouk's body, but state television broadcaster TVK later said about 1,200,000 people had turned out. On November 28, 2012, King Father Norodom Sihanouk was anointed by Royal Decree of HM King Norodom Sihamoni with the title Preah Karuna Preah Norodom Sihanouk Preah Borom Ratanakkot (Khmer: ព្រះករុណាព្រះនរោត្តម សីហនុ ព្រះបរមរតនកោដ្ឋ) (literally meaning The King who lies in the Diamond Urn).
On 1 February 2013, crowds gathered on the streets of Phnom Penh to bid one last farewell to Sihanouk, as his body was carried through the city. Other foreign dignities also attended his cremation ceremony, including French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prince Akishino of Japan, China's Jia Qinglin, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand, as well as US ambassador to Cambodia William E. Todd, and many more. The body was brought to the Royal Palace, where it was cremated on 5 February 2013. Sihanouk's ashes were then submersed into the Mekong River.
After his death, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that a statue of Sihanouk would be made. It was inaugurated on 11 October 2013 with King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen-Mother Norodom Monineath present at the ceremony. The statue is located in Phnom Penh, near the Independence Monument. The government also announced that October 15 will become an official public holiday as a mourning period of Norodom Sihanouk.
Titles and styles
|Monarchical styles of|
King Norodom Sihanouk
|Reference style||His Royal Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Royal Majesty|
Following his abdication, Sihanouk's official title was "Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdach Preah Norodom Sihanouk Preahmâhaviraksat" (Khmer: ព្រះករុណាព្រះបាទសម្តេចព្រះ នរោត្តម សីហនុ ព្រះមហាវីរក្សត្រ) or (ព្រះករុណា ព្រះបាទសម្ដេចព្រះ នរោត្តម សីហនុ ព្រះមហាវីរក្សត្រ ព្រះវររាជបិតាឯករាជ្យ បូរណភាពទឹកដី និងឯកភាពជាតិខ្មែរ) in English (His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk The Great Heroic King King-Father of Khmer independence, territorial integrity and national unity).
The literal translation of the title :
- Preah— "Sacred"
- Karuna— "Compassionate," referring to the Buddhist concept Karuna
- Bat— "Foot," from Sanskrit Pāda.
- Sâmdach— "Lord" or "Excellency"
- Preah— "Sacred"
- Norodom— "Best quality among men," from Sanskrit Uttam ("best in quality") + Nar ("among men")
- Sihanouk— "Jaws of the Lion," from Sanskrit Siha ("lion") + Hanouk ("jaws")
- Preahmâhaviraksat— Preah ("sacred") + Mâha ("great") + Vira ("brave or eminent") + Ksat ("warrior or ruler")
Sihanouk reportedly had several wives and concubines, producing at least fourteen children in a period of eleven years. According to Time (30 June 1956), however, his legal wives were Princess Samdech Norleak (married 1955) and Paule Monique Izzi (married 1955), who is a step-granddaughter of HRH Prince Norodom Duongchak of Cambodia and the younger daughter of Pomme Peang and her second husband, Jean-François Izzi, a banker. A profile of Sihanouk in The New York Times (4 June 1993, page A8) stated that the King met Monique Izzi in 1951, when he awarded her a prize in a beauty pageant.
The position of Cambodia in a dangerous world San Francisco : Asia Foundation, 1958Works
- Speech delivered by His Royal Highness Prince Norodom Sihanouk, President of the Council of Ministers on the occasion of the inauguration of the Khmer-American Friendship Highway Phnom-Penh, 1959
- Ideal, purpose and duties of the Khmer Royal Socialist Youth; interpretation and commentary of the statute of the K. R. S. Y., N.p., c.1960s
- Address of H.R.H. Norodom Sihanouk, Chief of State of Cambodia [at the] conference of heads of state or government of non-aligned countries. New York: Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations 1961
- Address of H.R.H. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Chief of State of Cambodia to the Asia Society. New York: Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations 1961
- Address at the sixteenth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations New York: Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations 1961
- Articles published in "Realités cambodgiennes" 22 June – 27 July 1962. Washington, D. C., Royal Cambodian Embassy 1961
- Speech by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Head of State, at the opening of the sixth Asian Conference organized by the Society of Friends. [Phnom-Penh] Information 1962
- Open letter to the international press Phnom Penh: Imprimerie du Ministere de L'Information, 1964
- Interview with Prince Sihanouk. with William Worthy Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Information, 1965
- Are we "false neutrals"?: editorial in Kambuja review no. 16; 15 July 1966 Phnom Phen: Head of State's Cabinet, 1966
- The failure experienced by the United States in their dealings with the "Third World," viewed in the light of Cambodia's own experience, Phnom Penh? 1968
- Brief notes on national construction in Cambodia Phnom Penh : Impr. Sangkum Reastr Niyum, 1969
- Message and solemn declaration of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, Head of State of Cambodia (March 23, 1970). [S.l.]: Royal Government of National Union of Cambodia; New York: Indochina Solidarity Committee, 1970
- Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia talks to Americans, Sept.–Oct. 1970. [n. p., 1970
- Message to American friends by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. [n. p., 1970
- Letter of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, Head of State of Cambodia, to their majesties and their excellencies the heads of government of non-aligned countries. [n. p., 1970
- Cambodia today: an interview with Prince Norodom Sihanouk. (with Ken Coates and Chris Farley) Nottingham, Eng.: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 1970
- Prince Norodom Sihanouk replies to Mr Norman Kirk M.P., Leader of the Opposition (New Zealand) [New Zealand? : s.n., 1971
- Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia speaks; January–February 1971. [S.l. : s.n., 1971
- Third World liberation: the key: speech to the Algiers summit conference Nottingham, Eng.: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 1973
- My War with the CIA: the memoirs of Prince Norodom Sihanouk "as related to Wilfred Burchett" New York, Pantheon Books 1973, (ISBN 0-7139-0449-6, ISBN 0-394-48543-2)
- The Cambodian resistance Auckland, Auckland Vietnam Committee, 1973
- Statements by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, 1965–1973 Washington, Embassy of the Khmer Republic, Press Sectin, 1973
- War and hope: the case for Cambodia New York, Pantheon Books 1980
- Prince Sihanouk on Cambodia: interviews and talks with Prince Norodom Sihanouk (with Manola Schier-Oum and Peter Schier) Hamburg: Institut für Asienkunde, 1980
- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, seen by Norodom Sihanouk Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1980
From an early age, Sihanouk had a passion for cinema as well as art, theater, and dance. He became a prodigious filmmaker, writing, directing, and acting in more than twenty movies and short films. Largely fictional, they contained an underlying theme of documenting life and historical events in Cambodia. His 1966 film La Forêt Enchantée ("The Enchanted Forest", "Robam Tepmonorom" in Khmer) was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival in 1967.
- See Angkor and Die (1993)
- My Village at Sunset (1992)
- An Ambition Reduced to Ashes (1995)
- The Last Days of Colonel Savath (1995)
- Cortège Royal (1969)
- Cambodge 1965 (1965)
- Norodom Sihanouk, Roi Cinéaste (1997) by Frédéric Mitterran