Norodom Sihamoni Biography
Norodom Sihamoni (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហមុនី) is the King of Cambodia, who was born on October 29, 1969 in Cambodia. He became King on October 14, 2004, a week after the abdication of his father, Norodom Sihanouk. He is the eldest son of King Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath and was Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO, prior to his selection by a nine-member throne council to become the next king. Before ascending to the throne, Sihamoni was educated in Czechoslovakia and was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor. His given name "Sihamoni" comprises two morphemes from his parents' given names "Sihanouk" and "Monineath". At the time of his birth and that of his younger brother, his mother Monique Izzi, a Khmer citizen of French, Corsican and Khmer ancestry, had been one of King Norodom Sihanouk's consorts after being a constant companion since the day they met in 1951, when she won first prize in a national beauty contest. The queen was granted the title of Neak Moneang and the name of Monineath at the time of her marriage to King Norodom Sihanouk in 1952. Furthermore, Queen Monineath is a step-granddaughter of the late Prince Norodom Duong Chakr of Cambodia, and the daughter of Pomme Peang and of her second husband, Jean-François Izzi, a Corsican banker. Sihamoni has 14 half-brothers and half-sisters by his father; his only full sibling, a younger brother, Samdech Norodom Narindrapong, was born in 1954 and died in 2003.
The reign of Sihamoni has been characterized as having a focus on the wellbeing of the Khmer people and culture. The King has been described by some as a humble monarch whom regularly connects with his people as well as an individual engaging in numerous significant and noteworthy philanthropic efforts throughout his reign. For example, in 2010, in the aftermath of the tragic stampede at Koh Pich in the capital that saw hundreds killed and injured, he reached out to the victims and their families, donating money to every household who had lost a family member in the incident, as well as financially supporting those who were injured. Another example was in 2016, where he donated the $6.5 million proceeds that was gained from the selling of the royal residence in Koh Kong to the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital founded by Beat Richner, which was the largest donation ever made in the hospital's history.