King Norodom Sihanouk offered his condolences to the family of Khieu Ponnary—the first wife of Pol Pot who died in Pailin July 1—in a public letter posted on his Web site Tuesday.
The King also recalled his days as an elementary school student with Khieu Ponnary at Phnom Penh’s Sutharot School in which the two were “always in the same class each year.”
The two were also classmates at Sisowath High School, where Khieu Ponnary studied Khmer and the young Norodom Sihanouk studied French and Latin, the King wrote.
“I wish her, in so far as she is a former friend from class at Sutharot School, peace in the afterlife, with the mercy of Buddha. And if she must be reborn one day, that she does not recommence her ‘Khmer Rouge experience,’” the King wrote.
It is not true, contrary to reports, that Khieu Ponnary had already gone mad by 1973, the King wrote. “[At that time] she remained entirely normal, lucid, always very intelligent and eloquent, polite and amiable. She retained for me all the affection of a young girl of the Sutharot School and of the Sisowath college.
“In 1973, at Phnom Kulen, she came to pay myself and my wife a very amiable visit in my small but elegant house of wood…. She was, of course, older, thinner and had many white hairs. This was our last meeting,” the King wrote.
The King also pointed out the various “fraternal” connections between members of the royal family and the families of Pol Pot, Khieu Ponnary and Ieng Thirith, who would later go on to lead the Khmer Rouge.
“The so-called ‘popular’ ‘revolution’ of the KR was in reality the work of intellectuals, scholars (for the most part) from the Royal Palace and the Royal Government of Cambodia under the reign of Norodom Sihanouk,” he wrote.
Then-princess Norodom Monineath and Ieng Thirith, wife of Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, maintained “the best and most affectionate relations” during the early days of the Pol Pot regime, when then-prince Sihanouk served as the regime’s head of state, according to the King.