Dancer, teacher, artistic director and United Nations representative, Norodom Sihamoni (born 1953) – son of the late Norodom Sihanouk and his seventh wife Monineath, and his name made up from the first four letters of each of their names – was elected to be Cambodia’s king by the Throne Council in October 2004 on the surprise abdication of his father. Most of Sihamoni’s life was spent outside Cambodia: from the age of 9 he was educated in Prague where he learned dance, music and theatre; he later studied cinematography in Korea.

In fact, other than his early childhood, the three years he spent imprisoned with his family in Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge years was the longest he spent in the country until becoming king. On the arrival of the Vietnamese, the royal family went into exile and for a year Sihamoni acted as private secretary to his father, but from 1980 he was in Paris (where he spent the next twenty years) as a professor of classical dance. From 1992, Sihamoni was Cambodia’s permanent representative at the United Nations, and in 1993 he became its UNESCO ambassador – resigning both positions on becoming king. Sharing his father’s love of cinema, Sihamoni was also director general of a production company, Khemara Pictures, and has a couple of ballet films to his credit. The king is a bachelor and keeps a lower profile than his late father. As yet he hasn’t done anything to excite the media, though he is seen around the country and seems well regarded by his subjects.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Cambodia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

25 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia

11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia

This beguiling country in Southeast Asia has captured the hearts and imaginations of travellers from all over the world. Travel photographer Fiona Campbell is …

11 Jan 2016 • Fiona Campbell insert_drive_file Article
How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds

How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds

The sky is lightening. Squint and you can just about make out a change in the colour of it, a shift from inky-black to blue-black. As the sun rises further it c…

03 Jun 2015 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month