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Sisowath Kossamak

Preah Mahaksatreiyani Sisowath Monivong Kossamak Nearirath Serey Vathana (Khmer: ព្រះមហាក្សត្រិយានី ស៊ីសុវត្ថិមុនីវង្ស កុសុមៈនារីរ័ត្នសេរីវឌ្ឍនា; 9 April 1904 – 27 April 1975) was the Queen consort of Cambodia by marriage to King Norodom Suramarit from 1955 to his death in 1960 then co-head of state with her only son, Norodom Sihanouk, from 1960 to 1970. Sisowath Kossamak was born Princess of Cambodia as the daughter of King Sisowath Monivong.

Sisowath Kossamak
Queen of Cambodia
Queen Sisowath Kossamak of Cambodia.JPG
Queen Mother of Cambodia
Reign20 June 1960 – 18 March 1970
RegentNorodom Sihanouk
Queen consort of Cambodia
Tenure2 March 1955 – 3 April 1960
Coronation5 March 1955
Born9 April 1904
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Died27 April 1975(1975-04-27) (aged 71)
Beijing, China
Norodom Suramarit
(m. 1920; died 1960)
IssueNorodom Sihanouk
Full name
Sisowath Monivong Kossamak Nearirath Serey Vattana
HouseHouse of Sisowath (by birth)
House of Norodom (by marriage)
FatherSisowath Monivong
MotherNorodom Kanviman Norleak Tevi

Upon the death of Monivong in 1941, Sihanouk took the throne. He abdicated in favor of his father Suramarit, who then reigned for five years. After her husband's death, Kossamak became the symbol and representative of the monarchy while Sihanouk assumed a role equal to that of a monarch. Both were overthrown in a 1970 coup, and they went into exile in China. Kossamak died there in 1975.


Queen Kossamak on a palanquin in the inner court, behind is the Khemarin Palace

Sisowath Kosamak married her father's cousin Norodom Suramarit in 1920. Upon the death of her father Monivong in 1941, Sihanouk, her son and Monivong's grandson, was selected as the new king. In the 1940s, she famously choreographed the apsara dance by training her first grand daughter, Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, to become the first Apsara dancer.

In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father. Queen Kossamak enjoyed great respect and popularity: despite neither a monarch nor politically influential, she was said to exert great moral authority over the khmers, was described as generous to the poor and devoting herself to the welfare of the nation.[1] As queen, she received foreign guests and hosted state functions, were the Royal ballet of Cambodia often performed.[1] Like her daughter-in-law, she was accused of promoting proteges to civil offices.[1] She was not on good terms with her daughter-in-law, Princess Monique, which led to advisories blaming Monique for the sometime strained relationship between Kossamak and Sihanouk, and for Sihanouk alleged initial hesitance to abdicate as it would make his mother queen.[1]

Following Suramarit's death in 1960, Norodom Sihanouk again became head of state (although he did not formally regain the title of king until 1993). There were suggestions of changing the constitution to allow for Kossamak to succeed as queen regnant and monarch in her own name, but the royal council was unwilling to allow it: her son Sihanouk stated that only God knew his reasons to why he did not wish his mother to succeed to the throne.[1]

Queen Kossamak continued in her representational role during the reign of her son as premier during the 1960s.[1] She also upheld her great popularity. In 1965, a serious conflict arouse, when an American paper published slander accusing her of greed and of managing brothels. This incident led to the attack of the American embassy in Phnom Penh and Sihanouk cutting diplomatic relations with the USA.

After the Cambodian coup of 1970, Kossamak was forced to leave the royal palace by the new government and held in house arrest in a villa in the suburb. She was allowed to join her son in Beijing in China for health reasons in 1973. She died in China two years later.[citation needed]


Foreign honourEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Jacobsen, Trudy (2008). Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History. NIAS Press. ISBN 978-87-7694-001-0.
  2. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1964" (PDF).
Sisowath Kossamak
Born: 1904 Died: 27 April 1975
Preceded by
Norodom Monineath
Queen consort of Cambodia
3 March 1955 – 3 April 1960
Succeeded by
Norodom Monineath