Nall Stephen Dariddh has become the first Cambodian cadet to graduate from the UK’s prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). 

Following an intensive 10-month training period, he was not only honoured with the traditional “Sandhurst Medal”, which features the cypher of newly-crowned UK King Charles III for the first time, and is presented to international graduates, but was also awarded the prestigious Bertrand Stuart War Studies Prize. 

The “Stuart” prize is personally chosen by the academy commandant in a blind reading of the academic work of all 155 British and international cadets.

The Sanghurst medals were presented to the 24 international cadets by Commandant Major-General Zac Stenning, OBE, in a December 13 ceremony, according to the Sandhurst Trust.

The trust explained that the medal was initiated in 2016 to recognise the “extraordinary achievement” of the international cadets who successfully complete the Regular Commissioning Course at the academy.

Since 1947, over 5,400 international alumni from over 129 different countries have graduated from RMAS.

According to RMAS, following 44 weeks of intensive training, a total of 155 Sandhurst cadets passed out at the December 15 Sovereign’s Parade. General Sir Tim Radford, a former Nato deputy supreme allied commander Europe, represented the King during the inspection parade.

“It is another moment of pride for Cambodia, as for the first time, one young Cambodian officer cadet, Stephen Dariddh Nall, successfully completed the 44-week training course, and was recognised as an outstanding student,” said the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in London on December 15.

“We would like to warmly congratulate and share our joy with the family of the officer cadet,” it added.

Stephan Nall’s father Mao Havannall, Minister in Charge of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), attended the passing out parade of the RMAS’s 231st session to see his son graduate.

He was joined by General Vong Pisen, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), who was in the UK for a December 14-16 two-day working visit.

“While in the UK, Pisen was warmly welcomed by General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff of the British Army,” said the embassy.

“Congratulations to Officer Cadet Nall for becoming the first Cambodian to graduate from the RMAS, one of the world’s most prestigious military academies. Alongside his graduation, he won the prestigious Bertrand Stuart War Studies Prize and Sandhurst medal from Major General Zac Stenning- Commandant Sandhurst,” tweeted the UK embassy in Phnom Penh. 

Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), said the Bertrand Stuart War Studies Prize was awarded for an essay which was judged to be the best produced by any of the cadet’s in the intake.

He added that unlike some of the other international awards, Stephen Nall won this award while in competition with both UK and international cadets, meaning he beat out many UK entries in the tough essay contest.

“Cadet Stephen Nall has brought a new image of the Cambodian Army to the world. He has made UK and Cambodian history and will forever be known as the first Cambodian graduate of the prestigious school – the same school that educated former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, monarchs, heads of states, and leaders of armies,” said Chhang.

The outstanding cadet was quoted by local media as extending his thanks to the RCAF and the Cambodian government for the opportunity to represent his nation at such a prestigious and competitive academy.

He announced his intention to continue his studies and pursue a career in military rotary wing aviation.