They danced the Tango and the Cha-cha-cha and sang the “Rose of Phnom Penh” in homage of Queen Norodom Monineath in the royal palace on Sunday evening on the eve of retired King Norodom Sihanouk’s departure to China for medical treatment.
In vivacious and robust form, the 82-year-old Norodom Sihanouk played host to the evening’s entertainment—billed on the invitations as a gala of “music, dance and singing”—for some 60 members of the local and international media who were invited to an earlier tour of his private museum.
Housing gifts from hundreds of countries and distinguished world leaders, the museum is home to items from such notables as Indonesian leader Sukarno, North Korea’s Great Leader Kim Il Sung, former US president Ronald Reagan and former French president Charles de Gaulle, among others.
But the highlight of the evening was in one of the palace’s ornate pavilions, where young Khmer singers sang songs written by Norodom Sihanouk and dancers moved to modern and classical dances choreographed by his daughter and former minister of culture Princess Buppha Devi.
Though the media representatives left at a respectable hour, Norodom Sihanouk did not retire until 1 am, following a late night viewing of his films with selected guests, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said at Phnom Penh International Airport Monday morning.
Bid farewell on the runway’s apron by King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh, Norodom Sihanouk appeared fresh and sprightly on Monday morning despite the late night before.
Visiting Beijing for medical treatment, Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Monineath plan to return to Cambodia by April 10, in time for the Khmer New Year celebrations, Prince Ranariddh said.