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King to visit alma mater in the Czech Republic

KING Norodom Sihamoni on Sunday began a weeklong private visit to the Czech Republic, where he lived for 13 years during his youth, the CTK Czech news agency has reported.

Norodom Sihamoni first arrived in the country, which he considers to be his “second homeland”, in 1962 as a 9-year old to devote himself to the art of dance.

The future King attended a primary school with Czechs, then a dance school and finally a college for music, ballet and dramatic arts. He still speaks fluent Czech.

He is to receive an honorary doctorate from his former college and meet with former teachers and classmates during the visit. He is to meet with Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday.

He first appeared on the stage of the Prague National Theatre at the age of 11 in a production of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

Last Friday, Norodom Sihamoni was inducted into France’s Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, a society that celebrates scholarship in the humanities, in recognition of his patronage of the arts and long-term support for archaeological preservation.

The academy praised Norodom Sihamoni for his commitment to archaeology, particularly that of the Angkorean period, saying the King “brings a new force to the defence of an archaeological treasure”.

The King is the son of former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and his wife, Monineath. AFP

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