Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Palace intrigue after Queen's new title

Palace intrigue after Queen's new title

ROYAL watchers are divided in their opinion over whether Queen Monique is now a contender

to become Cambodia's Monarch upon the King's death.

Speculation that King Sihanouk wants his Queen to succeed him - at least in a politically

approved, care-taker role - was fueled by his recent grant to her of a higher Royal

title. The King has angrily denied such suggestions.

Constitutionally, the Queen is not eligible to become the reigning Monarch - she

does not descend from the three Royal bloodlines - but several observers said this

week that changes to the Constitution could well be possible.

One observer said the choice of Sihanouk's successor ultimately lay with Prince Norodom

Ranariddh - widely considered the leading candidate - and his co-Prime Minister Hun


The key questions were whether Ranariddh would want to be King and, if not, which

candidate he and Hun Sen - "because like it or not, Hun Sen is in charge"

- would support taking the Throne.

Both Prime Ministers sit on the seven-member Throne Council, the constitutional body

charged with choosing the next Monarch.

Some sources claim Ranariddh has privately eschewed the idea of becoming the next

King, saying he preferred to stay in politics.

Ranariddh risked accusations of leaving his royalist Funcinpec party leaderless if

he did vie to be King, one observer noted. Another said the 1998 general election

result would play a critical part in Ranariddh's eventual decision.

Others say that Ranariddh does harbor regal ambitions, and that Hun Sen and National

Assembly President Chea Sim (another member of the Throne Council) would have good

reasons to see Ranariddh King - a further weakening of Funcinpec being one of them.

If Ranariddh choose not to seek the Throne, several observers speculated that the

Queen could reign for a period with the intention of arranging a "smooth succession"

to one of the eligible princes at a later date. The Queen, they suggested, had better

relations with the candidates than the King did.

Constitutional changes to allow the Queen to reign would be impossible without the

Cambodian People's Party's agreement, but sources suggested the CPP could be agreeable.

The Queen was considered apolitical and able to get on with all political parties,

they said.

Whether the King would want his wife to succeed him is unclear, though it is widely

believed he has made efforts to "secure the future of his wife" upon his


One close observer of the King noted the Queen had taken a high-profile, officiating

at functions with one or both of the Prime Ministers, in recent months. The King,

for his part, never failed to mention the Queen's name in his speeches.

Public speculation about the Queen was prompted by a Jan 2 decree by King Sihanouk

which elevated his wife's Royal status. He directed that the Queen was to be known

as Samdech Preah Reach Akka-Mohesey, which translates as the Supreme or Eminent Wife

of the Monarch, replacing her previous title of Preah Mohessey.

No reason was given for the change but on Jan 4 King Sihanouk issued a statement

protesting the "injustice" of suggestions that he wanted to choose his

successor himself.

The King wrote that the Queen's previous title could also apply to "the wife

of a great Prince", so the new title added the words Reach (which he translated

as Royal, or of the King) and Akka (eminent).

The King hit out at "certain Cambodian politicians and certain foreigners"

who pretended that he wanted to violate the Constitution "by not letting the

Throne Council do its job to elect, upon my death, the new King of Cambodia..."

The council - comprising the Prime Ministers, the president and two vice-presidents

of the National Assembly and two chief monks - is charged with choosing a successor

to the King within seven days of his death.

The Constitution, which makes no mention of the possibility of a woman becoming the

Monarch, says the new King must descend from the bloodline of King Ang Duong, King

Norodom or King Sisowath. The Queen was born of a French-Italian father and a non-Royal

Cambodian mother.

Potentially, there are dozens of candidates for the Throne, but most speculation

has centered on Prince Ranariddh, Prince Norodom Sirivudh (the King's half-brother),

and Prince Sihamoni (one of Queen Monique's two sons to the King).

The King has previously spoken disparagingly of another of his sons, Prince Yuvaneath,

as being Hun Sen's choice of an "obedient" candidate for the Throne.

While Prince Sihamoni has long been rumored to be choice of the Queen, the King has

several times denied that.

Meanwhile Prince Sirivudh, as one observer noted this week, has effectively been

put "out of the way" by his recent exile from Cambodia, brokered by the


Most recently, the King has indicated dissatisfaction with all potential candidates.

In November he said he was willing to abdicate at any time but challenged his critics

to present to the Throne Council "a Cambodian prince who deserves to be elected"

as King.



Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Turkish Embassy calls for closure of Zaman schools

With an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Erdogan quashed only days ago and more than 7,000 alleged conspirators now under arrest, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia yesterday pressed the govern

CNRP lawmakers beaten

Two opposition lawmakers, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh, as over a thousand protesters descended upon the National Assembly.

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Students at Phnom Penh's Liger Learning Center have written and published a new book, "The Cambodian Economy".