King Norodom Sihamoni has been awarded the esteemed title “Royal Patron of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB).”
The WFB, a global Buddhist organisation formed in 1950 by delegates from 27 countries, bestows this honour to the highest echelons of Buddhist and secular leaders who encapsulate Buddhist virtues.
An official ceremony took place on June 24, led by WFB president Phallop Thaiarry and Cambodia’s National Assembly second vice-president Khuon Sodary, according to the Asian Cultural Council (ACC).
The ACC highlighted King Sihamoni’s compassion and his instrumental role in nurturing Buddhism in Cambodia and the wider world as reasons for this recognition.
At the ceremony, Sodary highlighted the synchronicity of the honour with the 30th anniversary of the Cambodian Constitution’s proclamation. She said the Constitution safeguards citizens’ rights and freedom of religion, with Buddhism as the state religion.
Thaiarry, representing 55 Buddhist nations, praised the King for steering the nation towards enduring peace. This prestigious title acknowledges his contribution to national unification.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, among other government officials, expressed congratulations on the King’s accolade. He credited the King for enhancing Cambodia’s global prestige and fostering peace and prosperity.
“The King has been promoting the prestige of the Kingdom to the world and has brought peace, prosperity and recognition to the entire nation,” he wrote in a congratulatory letter.
Chhort Bunthang, from the Royal Academy of Cambodia, affirmed the King’s suitability for the honour, lauding his lifelong dedication to Buddhist principles and peace.
“Receiving this royal title is an honour for himself and for the royal family, as well as for the nation and society as a whole. He is the nation’s reigning monarch,” Bunthang said.
So far, the title “Royal Patron of the WFB” has been awarded to nine eminent Buddhist monks, kings, and leaders of Buddhist nations including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India and Japan.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has also recentlly joined the ranks. As a founding member of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, Cambodia hosted its 6th global conference back in November 1961.