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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sincerest best wishes to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni on the occasion of His Birthday

Sincerest best wishes to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni on the occasion of His Birthday

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni is the son of His Majesty the King Father Norodom

Sihanouk and Her Majesty the Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk of Cambodia.

The king was born on 14 May 1953, in Phnom Penh.

He completed his primary schooling at the Norodom School and his secondary schooling

at the Lycee Descartes both in Phnom Penh.

King Sihamoni is the leading artist of the Cambodian Royal Family and has always

been devoted to the promotion of Cambodia's cultural heritage through his personal

participation in films, classical dance, ballet, exhibitions and publications.

In 1967, at the age of fourteen, he was the star of the film "The Little Prince"

shot in Cambodia by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk. During his holidays the king

studied classical Khmer dance with his sister, Princess Buppha Devi.

The king then spent some time at Prague's High School in Czechoslovakia, where he

obtained his High School Certificate in 1970, prior to his entering the National

Conservatory of Prague, where he undertook courses in dance, music and theatre. In

1971, His Majesty obtained the First Prize in the course of classical dance of the

National Conservatory of Prague.

From 1971 to 1975, the king followed higher studies in dance, music and theatre at

the Academy of Musical Art in Prague. He graduated the same year from the Academy

of Musical Art of Prague.

He then proceeded to undertake higher cinematography studies at the National Academy

of Cinematography of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang.

His studies in Pyongyang were suddenly interrupted, in April 1976, by a fake telegram,

signed Norodom Sihanouk, summoning him back to Phnom Penh, where he joined his parents

and other members of the Cambodian Royal Family as prisoners of the brutal regime

of Pol Pot.

The king recalls that during that time they were allowed to see no one, had no staff

to help them and that for food they had to grow vegetables and fruits in the gardens

of the Royal Palace. Twice a week, their Khmer Rouge guards gave them rice and fish.

As the Vietnamese tanks approached Phnom Penh, the Royal Family was moved to a smaller

house in central Phnom Penh but remained under close guard for fear that the Vietnamese

may try to seize His Majesty the King Father.

Then, in early January 1979, as Phnom Penh was about to fall, the King Father, the

Queen Mother and their two sons, aunt and a few other persons were taken to China

by a special plane sent by the Chinese authorities.

His Majesty served then as Private Secretary to His Majesty the King Father for two

years in China and Korea, where His Majesty the King Father organized a liberation

movement.

In 1981, the king requested his parents' permission to travel to France and he became

professor of classical dance and artistic pedagogy at the Marius Petipa Conservatory,

the Gabriel Faure Conservatory and the W. A. Mozart Conservatory of the City of Paris.

The king formed his own troupe of dancers, known as Ballet Deva, which performed

pieces choreographed by the king himself. The group has appeared in France, in China

and the P.D.R. of Korea and has tried to keep Cambodia's cultural heritage alive.

The king also made two ballet films "Dream" and "Four Elements".

In 1990, the king became Director General and Artistic Director of the Khmer Cinematographic

Society "Khemara Pictures". Following the Peace Agreements of October 1991,

the king was unanimously chosen by the members of the Supreme National Council of

Cambodia as Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the United Nations.

On 30 August 1993, His Majesty was Appointed Ambassador, Permanent Representative

of Cambodia to UNESCO.

But his newly acquired diplomatic functions did not prevent His Majesty from keeping

up with his artistic talents. In 1992, the king was the star of a new film shot in

Cambodia by his father, King Norodom Sihanouk. "My Village at Sunset" and

during the 1994/ 1995 season of creations and new versions of the young ballet of

France, he created "Duel", a ballet in which under the influence of Russian

ballet, he concentrated on giving an important role to men, who normally do not have

such a role in traditional Khmer dance.

His Majesty was elevated to the rank of Sdech Krom Khun (Great Prince) on 1 February

1994.

The king is fluent in Khmer, French and Czech. He has a good command of both English

and Russian.

His Majesty was awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Monisaraphon and is

a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour. He was crowned as King of Cambodia

on October 29, 2004.

Reprinted with permission from the Royal House of Cambodia by Julio A.Jeldres.

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