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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royal row over ballet sees calls for control to return to palace

Royal row over ballet sees calls for control to return to palace

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Two princes say that the Ministry of Culture should hand control of the

National Ballet to the palace to improve quality and attendanc.

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

A Royal Ballet performer on stage in this photograph.

TWO princes who recently left politics have expressed their desire for the Royal Ballet of Cambodia to be removed from under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and returned to the Royal Palace, describing the potential move as a return to tradition.

Prince Sisowath Thomico and Prince Sisowath Chakrey Noukpol told the Post in recent interviews that the Royal Ballet should be returned because it originated in the Royal Palace before being moved to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in 1970.

Both princes left politics in late 2008, and Prince Thomico was recently appointed to the King's advisory council.  

I want to appeal ... for the Royal Ballet to be kept in the Royal Palace.

"I want to appeal to all members of the royal family to ask for the Royal Ballet to be kept in the Royal Palace, and I also want to appeal to the government about this," Chakrey said. "I don't think the move will cause damage to the ballet because both the royal family and the government work for the nation."

Thomico said other members of the royal family agree with this position but are not willing to come out in public support of it.

Republican era  

The Royal Ballet was placed under the control of the Culture Ministry in 1970 by then-prime minister Lon Nol, who changed its name from the Royal Ballet to the National Ballet, Thomico said. The name has since been changed back to the Royal Ballet, but it remains under the control of the ministry.

"Now the royal family wants to reorganise it in accordance with tradition, so it should be taken into the Royal Palace," Thomico said.

He said he believes the Royal Ballet has suffered both in quality and popularity during nearly four decades of control by the ministry, adding that moving it to the Palace could reverse its decline.

Chuch Poeurn, a secretary of state at the Culture Ministry, declined to comment beyond confirming that the Royal Ballet was originally controlled by the palace. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR

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