Friday, August 7, 2009

He met the King today

J had an audience with the King of Cambodia today. His majesty, Norodom Sihamoni, wanted to thank those who had donated to the new Childrens Foundation- in person.

Born 14 May 1953 Sihamoni is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. His name is made up of of the beginning of each of his parents names- Siha- from his father and- Moni- from his mother, although his official title as King is much longer-Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdech Preah Bâromneath Norodom Sihamoni Nai Preah Reacheanachakr Kampuchea (whew!), in romanized Khmer, or His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni of the Kingdom of Cambodia, in English. His mother, who has a Khmer mother and a French Italian father, is Sihanouk's 7th wife. King Norodom Sihamoni has 12 half brothers and sisters, by his father's various relationships but only one full sibling who died of a heart attack aged 49, in 2003.

He is a small man with the posture of a dancer (he is a trained Ballet dancer and taught Ballet in France for 20 years) and a quiet charisma that envelops rather than knocks you over. He is often photographed smiling, unlike the more austere Thai King and speaks fluent French, Khmer and Czech (where he spent most of his schooling years) and is also comfortable speaking English and Russian.

So, on a Saturday morning dressed in a dark grey suit, red tiki cuff links and a red and dark blue tie, J set off, with our very nervous and excited driver behind the wheel, to Malis, an upmarket restaurant for protocol instruction. With not enough room for all the attendees in the van The Prince and J got back into our car and drove the few blocks to the Royal Palace where they were met at the door by the King.

I got the details when J got home a few hours later. The King, he said was a quiet, gracious man. He took the time to talk to each and every person involved, speaking in either French or English depending on the nationality of the person he was addressing. J was humbled and honoured to have met - The King of Cambodia.


Sarah Lee said...

Wow, what an incredible honour and experience. I enjoyed reading about the King and what a fascinating man he sounds. J will probably carry the memories of his visit forever. Fabulous.

Verity said...

Wow! He sounds so interesting. How exciting!