Norodom Sihanouk

From Academic Kids

HM King-Father Norodom Sihanouk
Time in office: April 24, 1941-March 3, 1955;
November 20, 1991-October 7 2004
(King from September 24, 1993)
Predecessor: Sisowath Monivong (first time);
Chea Sim (second time)
Successor: Norodom Suramarit (first time);
Norodom Sihamoni (second time)
Date of Birth: October 31, 1922
Place of Birth: Phnom Penh

His Majesty King-Father Norodom Sihanouk (Khmer: Mul script Missing image

 ; regular script Missing image

) (name pronounced in Khmer; Missing image

[[Media:Fr-Sihanouk.ogg|]] in French), the son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak, reigned as King of Cambodia until he announced his abdication on October 7 2004, and is now "King-Father of Cambodia", a position in which he retains many of his former prerogatives as king.

During Cambodia's turbulent history since the 1940s he has held so many positions that the Guinness Book of World Records identifies him as the politician who has occupied 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, and one as Cambodia's non-titled head of state, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments in exile.


Sihanouk's name

Since his abdication, his official Cambodian title (short version, the most used) is:
"Preah Karuna Preah Bat Smdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk Preahmhaviraksat"
In Khmer:
Missing image

Missing image

Missing image

The literal meaning of the title is:
Preah ("sacred", cognate of the Indian word Brahmin) Karuna ("compassionate", a Buddhist concept, see Karuna) Preah ("sacred") Bat ("foot", from Sanskrit ', cognate of Latin pes, pedis, French pied) Smdech ("Lord, Prince, Excellency") Preah ("sacred") Norodom (given name of King Norodom of Cambodia, used as a family name by his descendants) Sihanouk (given name of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk; it is a contraction of Siha- meaning "lion", from Sanskrit ', cognate of "Singa-" in Singapore; and -hanouk, from Sanskrit hanu, meaning "jaws") Preahmhavirakast (Preah- "sacred"; -mha- from Sanskrit, meaning "great", cognate with "maha-" in maharaja; -vira- from Sanskrit ', meaning "brave or eminent man, hero, chief", cognate of Latin vir, viris, English virile; and -ksat meaning "warrior, ruler", cognate of the Indian word Kshatriya).

The word "father" does not appear in the Cambodian title, but in western languages his title is translated as "His Majesty King-Father Norodom Sihanouk", to distinguish from the title of his son the new king which is "His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni".

Despite the great ritualism surrounding the Cambodian monarchy, Prince/King Sihanouk has always favored informal relations with the Cambodian people, and when addressing him, or talking about him, they most often call him Smdech Euv (Missing image

), which literally means "Prince Dad", "My Lord Dad" (French: "Monseigneur Papa").

Early life

Norodom Sihanouk received his primary education in a Phnom Penh primary school, the cole Franois Baudoin. He pursued his secondary education in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam and then attended military school in Saumur, France. When his maternal grandfather, King Sisowath Monivong, died on April 23, 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk as King of Cambodia, his coronation taking place in September of the same year. Rumors abounded during this period that the influence of France (the regional colonial power) accounted for his accession.

Leadership Turmoil

After World War II and into the early 1950s, King Sihanouk's politics became more nationalistic and he began demanding that the French grant the country independence and depart, echoing the sentiments of many nations in the region, including Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. He went into exile in Thailand in 1952 and refused to return until the granting of independence. He returned when his overtures met with success and Cambodia became independent on November 9, 1953. On March 2, 1955, King Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father, taking the post of prime minister a few months later. Following his father's death in 1960, he gained election as head of state, but without the title of 'King', merely receiving the title of Prince.

While the Vietnam War raged, Sihanouk sought to preserve Cambodia's neutrality. Alternately taking sides with the People's Republic of China, supporting the United States and espousing Third Way policies, he nevertheless could not prevent the war from spilling over into his country. On March 18, 1970, while he was travelling out of the country, Lon Nol orchestrated a coup d'tat and ousted him from power. 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 symbolic head of state of the new rgime while Pol Pot remained the power behind the throne. The next year, on April 4 1976, the Khmer Rouge forced Sihanouk out of office again and into political retirement. He then sought refuge in the People's Republic of China and in North Korea.

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 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. In 1982, he became president of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which consisted of his own FUNCINPEC party, Son Sann's KPNLF and the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989, leaving behind a pro-Vietnamese government under Prime Minister Hun Sen to run the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK).


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 November 14, 1991 after thirteen years in exile.

In 1993, His Royal Majesty Norodom Sihanouk became once again King of Cambodia. During his restoration, however, he suffered ill health and traveled repeatedly to Beijing, China, for medical treatment.

Although the King had very limited political power, in mid-February 2004, after watching scenes of jubilant gay and lesbian couples receiving marriage licenses in San Francisco, California, he announced that Cambodia, too, should recognize same-sex marriage. In the same statement, he also expressed support for transvestites. While carrying no legal force, this proclamation (in which he states that God loves a "wide range of tastes") held considerable moral weight in a nation where the King continued to enjoy substantial popularity for a lifetime of efforts on behalf of his country's independence.

Sihanouk's leisure interests include music and films. He has become a prodigious filmmaker over the years, directing many movies and orchestrating musical compositions. He became one of the first heads of state in the region to have a personal website, which has proven a cult hit, drawing more than a thousand visitors a day, a substantial portion of his nation's Internet users. Royal statements usually appear posted there on a daily basis for his subjects' perusal.

King Sihanouk went into self-imposed exile in January 2004, taking up residence in Pyongyang, North Korea, and later in Beijing, China. Citing reasons of ill-health, he announced his abdication of the throne on October 7, 2004. The Cambodian constitution made no provision for such a move, but the establishment took the announcement in its stride. 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 October 14 and appointed Norodom Sihamoni, one of Sihanouk's sons, as the new King.


See also

External links

Preceded by:
Sisowath Monivong
King of Cambodia
Succeeded by:
Norodom Suramarit
Preceded by:
Norodom Suramarit
Prince of Cambodia
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
King of Cambodia
Succeeded by:
Norodom Sihamoni

Template:End boxbg:Нородом Сианук de:Norodom Sihanouk es:Norodom Sihanouk et:Norodom Sihanouk fr:Norodom Sihanouk ja:ノロドム・シハヌーク ms:Norodom Sihanouk nl:Norodom Sihanouk pl:Norodom Sihanouk ru:Нородом Сианук sv:Norodom Sihanouk zh-cn:西哈努克亲王


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