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

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

Sen.

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

death.

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

King.

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.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The