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Norodom Monineath

Norodom Monineath Sihanouk (Khmer: នរោត្ដម មុនិនាថ សីហនុ; born Paule Monique Izzi, 18 June 1936) is the queen mother of Cambodia. She was queen consort of Cambodia from 1952 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2004, as the wife of King Norodom Sihanouk. She is the widow of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk, whom she married in 1952. Queen Monineath and King Sihanouk parented two children: Norodom Sihamoni and Norodom Narindrapong. Her official, full title is "Samdech Preah Mahaksatrey Norodom Monineath Sihanouk" (Khmer: សម្តេចព្រះមហាក្សត្រី នរោត្តម មុនិនាថ សីហនុ). The Queen is also called "Preah Voreakreach Meada Cheat Khmer" (Khmer: ព្រះវររាជមាតាជាតិខ្មែរ, queen mother). Her birthday on 18 June is an official public holiday in Cambodia.

Norodom Monineath Sihanouk
Queen Norodom Monineath.JPG
Queen consort of Cambodia
Tenure24 September 1993 – 7 October 2004
Coronation24 September 1993
BornPaule Monique Izzi
(1936-06-18) 18 June 1936 (age 83)
Saigon, French Indochina
Norodom Sihanouk
(m. 1952; died 2012)
IssueNorodom Sihamoni
Norodom Narindrapong
Full name
Norodom Monineath Sihanouk
HouseHouse of Norodom (by marriage)
FatherJean-François Izzi
MotherPomme Peang
ReligionTheravada Buddhism
Royal family of Cambodia
Royal arms of Cambodia

HM The King

HM The Queen Mother

  • HRH Prince Norodom Ranariddh
    • HRH Prince Norodom Chakravuth
    • HRH Prince Norodom Sihariddh
      • HH Prince Norodom Jayariddh
      • HH Prince Norodom Célian
      • HH Princess Norodom Alexiane
    • HRH Princess Norodom Rattana Devi
    • HH Prince Norodom Sothearidh
    • HH Prince Norodom Ranavong
  • HRH Princess Norodom Bopha Devi
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Moni Kossoma
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Kalyan Tevi
    • HH Norodom Chansita Forsinetti
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Chivannariddh
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Veakchiravuddh
  • HRH Prince Norodom Yuvaneath
    Neak Moneang Norodom Kim Yuvaneath
    • HRH Princess Norodom Chhavann-rangsi
    • HRH Prince Norodom Yuveakduri
    • HRH Prince Norodom Veakchearavouth
      HRH Princess Norodom Veakchearavouth
    • HRH Prince Norodom Veakcharin
    • HRH Princess Norodom Pekina
    • HRH Princess Norodom Yuveakdevi
  • HRH Prince Norodom Chakrapong
    Neak Moneang Norodom Kachanipha Chakrapong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Buddhapong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Amarithivong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Naravong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Narithipong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Ravichak
    • HRH Princess Norodom Nanda Dévi
    • HRH Princess Norodom Vimalea
    • HRH Princess Norodom Bophary
    • HRH Prince Norodom Ithipong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Rindra
    • HRH Prince Norodom Charurak
    • HRH Prince Norodom Pongmonirith
    • HRH Princess Norodom Pongsoriya
  • HRH Prince Norodom Narindrapong
    • HRH Princess Norodom Simonarine
    • HRH Princess Norodom Moninouk
  • HRH Princess Norodom Arunrasmy
    HE Keo Puth Rasmey
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Nakia
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Nando
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Sirikith Nathalie
    • HRH Princess Keo Ponita
    • HRH Prince Keo Khemuni


Norodom Monineath was born on 18 June 1936, in Saigon, French Indochina. She was born Paule-Monique Izzi, and is sometimes referred to as Queen Monique.[1] Her father, Jean-François Izzi, was a French banker of Corsican, French and Italian descent,[2] who was Director of Crédit Foncier in Saigon, and killed in World War II. Her mother, Pomme Peang, was from Phnom Penh.[3]

Norodom Monineath Sihanouk in 1972, during a visit to the Socialist Republic of Romania

She studied at the Primary School Norodom, Sisowath High School, and the Lycée René Descartes. She met Norodom Sihanouk in 1951, when he awarded her first prize in a beauty pageant. They married privately in 1952, and a second time, officially, in 1955. She has been described as the close confidant of Sihanouk.[4]

In 1955, her husband abdicated, but remained in charge of the rule of the country: in 1960, he became head of state again, but known as premier and with the title prince. Princess Monique, as she was called during this period, was exposed to some criticism from both the Khmer Republic as well as the Khmer Rouge for her life during the reign of Sihanouk in the 1960s.[5] The propaganda of the Khmer Republic was later to accuse her of having caused the strained relationship between Sihanouk and his mother, the popular queen mother Sisowath Kossamak;[6] they claimed that she had advised Sihanouk to introduce the unpopular state casino, which was at the time viewed as a symbol of national decadence,[7] and alleged that she, her mother and her brother contributed to corruption by promoting protegees to lucrative offices.[8] The Khmer Rouge reportedly once burned her image in effigy for corruption.[5] Princess Monique served as President of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) in 1967-1970.

After the Cambodian coup of 1970, she joined her husband in exile first in Beijing in China and then North Korea. As guests of the North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, a palace with 60 rooms was given them as their residence during their stay.[9] In 1973, Norodom Sihanouk allied himself with the Khmer Rouge against their common enemy, Lon Nol. The royal couple also made a visit to Khmer Rouge territory in Cambodia before returning to China.[9]

After the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975, she returned to the royal palace in Phnom Penh in Cambodia with her husband, who was appointed nominal head of state by the Khmer Rouge. From 1976 onward, however, they were both kept in house arrest by the Khmer Rouge. They were reportedly subjected to a political re-education program during these years, and at least 18 members of the extended royal house were killed. Reportedly, the regime suggested to have them executed, but this was prevented by intervention by China and North Korea.[9] In January 1979, Pol Pot allowed for her and her husband to be evacuated from Cambodia by the Chinese. The original plan was to evacuate only Sihanouk and Monineath, but Pol Pot himself insisted that all members of the royal house should be given a place on the Chinese plane.[10]

Norodom Monineath spent the following years with her spouse as state guests of China and North Korea. She is credited to have played some part in the peace negotiations arranged between Sihanouk and Hun Sen by Tong Siv Eng in 1987 and 1988, and she is known to have been present during the negotiations.[5]

In 1991, she returned to Cambodia with Sihanouk. On 22 February 1992, she was elevated by the King to the rank of Samdech Preah Cheayea. On 24 September 1993, she was raised to the rank of Samdech Preah Mohèsey Norodom Monineath of Cambodia. On 2 January 1996, the King elevated her to the rank of Samdech Preah Reach Akka Mohèsey Norodom Monineath.

Sihanouk reportedly suggested to change the constitution to make it possible for her to be a regent and succeed him on the throne, but ultimately, this did not come about, and he chose to abdicate in favor of their son instead.[11]

Monineath speaks Khmer, French and English.[12] She is currently the Cambodian Red Cross Honorary President.


Styles of
Norodom Monineath
The Queen Mother of Cambodia
Reference styleHer Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty
Alternative styleMadame

The King Father and the Queen Mother have two sons:






  1. ^ "NORODOM SIHANOUK, King and Film-maker". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  2. ^ " - Diese Website steht zum Verkauf! - Informationen zum Thema". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  3. ^ King's biography Archived 27 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Benny Widyono: Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia (Asian Voices)
  5. ^ a b c Jacobsen, Trudy (2008). Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History. NIAS Press. ISBN 978-87-7694-001-0
  6. ^ Trudy Jacobsen: Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History
  7. ^ Trudy Jacobsen: Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History
  8. ^ Trudy Jacobsen: Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History
  9. ^ a b c Cambodia’s Queen Mother Monique celebrates 75th birthday
  10. ^ Nhem Broaden: The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution that Consumed a Generation, 2013
  11. ^ Cambodia, post elections and US policy options. United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. U.S. G.P.O., 1999
  12. ^ Official biography of King Norodom Sihanouk and his consort
  13. ^ Biographie de Sar Samdech Norodom Narindrapong
  14. ^ a b "CAMBOA19". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1963" (PDF).
  16. ^

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