Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk yesterday celebrated her 83rd birthday on a modest scale with relatives and senior government officials at the Royal Palace.
The event was celebrated with prayers and monks were offered food and other necessities according to Buddhist tradition.
Oum Daravuth, the King’s cabinet chief, said the Queen Mother did not host lavish celebrations on her birthday, but noted that relatives and senior government officials joined the Buddhist ceremony.
Prince Tesso Sisowath, King Sihamoni’s cousin, yesterday said during the ceremony that government officials and royal relatives paid their respects and wished the Queen Mother a happy birthday.
“The celebration this year was the same as last year. Queen mother said just a few words during the celebration,” Prince Tesso said. “She’s happy to meet relatives and government officials during her birthday.”
Prince Tesso said although Queen mother Monineath turned 83, her physical appearance remains elegant and she is so healthy.
Queen Mother Norodom Monineath was born on June 18, 1936 in Saigon, French Indochina. She was born Paule-Monique Izzi, and is sometimes referred to as Queen Monique.
Her father, Jean-Francois Izzi, was a French banker of Corsican, French and Italian descent. Her mother, Pomme Peang, was a Phnom Penh native.
The Queen Mother met King Father Norodom Sihanouk in 1951 when she was awarded first prize in a beauty pageant. They first married privately in 1952, before an official ceremony was held in 1955.
They had two sons; the current King of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihamoni, and Prince Norodom Narindrapong, who died of a heart attack in 2003.
Sambo Manara, a history professor at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, yesterday said the Queen Mother assisted King Father Norodom Sihanouk in making various historical achievements, and she is known for her charitable work.
“Queen Mother contributed to the nation’s growth with King Father. She is well known for her support for the humanitarian work of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC),” he said. “I am sure that millions of Cambodian people love her because of her achievements.”
The Queen Mother was the CRC president from 1967 to 1979 and is currently serving as honorary president. She has also served as the honorary president of the Cambodian National Council for Women, which aims to empower women to play a greater role in Buddhist activities, the education sector and social work.
Chhin Ketana, secretary-general of the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, said hundreds of people gathered in front of the Royal Palace when fireworks lit up the sky to mark the birthday last night.
“Congratulatory messages have been displayed on the main roads in Phnom Penh. We also showed Queen Mother’s portrait in front of the Royal Palace,” he said. “The city hall also decorated tourist sites to mark the national holiday.”
Birthday wishes from the country’s top officials were also broadcast on television and radio, published in newspapers, and posted on social media.
“On this occasion, I would like to send blessings to Your Majesty Queen Mother,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a message. “I wish you good health, strength, wisdom and longevity in order to bring Cambodia to prosperity and glory.”