As workers across the country enjoyed a day off Wednesday to commemorate Queen Mother Norodom Monineath’s birthday, the woman at the center of the occasion celebrated quietly with about 60 members of her extended family at the Royal Palace.
The Queen Mother marked her 78th year by receiving blessings from five Buddhist monks at a small ceremony inside the palace at 9 a.m., according to Prince Sisowath Thomico, who attended the event.
“Her Majesty Queen Mother has been in mourning for the late King Father Preah Norodom Sihanouk, so there is no big celebration, no music and no royal dinner for Royal Highness Queen Mother Norodom Monineath,” the Prince said.
“There have been a number of blessing letters and baskets of flowers sent by various ambassadors and diplomats to Cambodia, but there was no royal reception with government leaders and other officials,” he added.
Prince Thomico explained that since the late King Father’s death in October 2012, the Queen Mother had stopped holding large birthday celebrations.
“In the past, the [late] King Father held a royal dinner with diplomats and government leaders, but there are no loud music or dining reception since the late King Father passed away,” he said.
However, a seven-tier birthday cake shaped like the royal umbrella was presented to the Queen Mother during the day, and last night a fireworks display was launched across the Tonle Sap river from the Royal Palace.
The occasion brought together many royal family members from across the political spectrum, including Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who earlier this month launched the Community of Royalist People Party, and Prince Norodom Chakrapong, a long-time CPP stalwart.
State-run television station TVK screened movies starring the late King Father and the Queen Mother in the run-up to Wednesday’s national holiday.
Blessing messages from various government institutions were printed in local newspapers, while the state-owned AKP news agency ran similar messages from a number of high-ranking officials, including National Police Chief Neth Savoeun and Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
Chhin Ketana, secretary-general of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals, said the Queen Mother’s portrait had been displayed in front of ministries and government buildings to honor her birthday.