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Firm removes ‘Royal’ shoes

Firm removes ‘Royal’ shoes

A United States-based retailer threatened with a lawsuit by the government over shoes bearing the Royal coat of arms said yesterday that it had pulled the offending products, as King Father Norodom Sihanouk weighed in on the controversy.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Hor Nambora, the Cambodian ambassador to the United Kingdom, wrote to online merchandiser Zazzle that the use of the coat of arms on Pro-Keds Hi-Top sneakers available on the company’s site was “completely unacceptable”, warning that Zazzle could face “public prosecution”.

Zazzle’s director of consumer marketing, Michael Karns, noted that the company’s products are exclusively user-designed, but said yesterday that the firm had taken action at Hor Nambora’s request.

“The particular shoes in question here were created by a Zazzle seller and, as you know, the Ambassador found them offensive and distasteful,” Karns wrote in an email.

“The Ambassador alerted Zazzle to his feelings in a letter, and after careful review our Content Management Team has decided to remove the flagged products from the Zazzle marketplace.”

Karns added that the company “has tools to enable any Zazzle user to report to our Content Management Team any product that they find offensive or otherwise in violation of Zazzle’s User Agreement”.

In hand-written notes in the margins of an article on Zazzle in yesterday’s Post, Sihanouk said it was “an unpardonable crime to print the Royal coat of arms of Cambodia on shoes”.

“I hope that the [Royal Government of Cambodia] will file an official complaint,” the King Father added.

While the offending Keds had been removed, t-shirts and tote bags bearing the Royal coat of arms were still available on Zazzle’s site as of yesterday afternoon, as were neckties and trucker hats adorned with the Cambodian flag.

Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, called the removal of the shoes “a good sign, because [Zazzle] understood that putting the Royal coat of arms on display on a shoe is wrong”.

“I am not sure whether the Cambodian ambassador to the UK will continue to pursue legal action or not,” he added.

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