Royal Web Site Hints Pen Pal Visited Capital

Ruom Ritt, known for years to Ro­yal Palace followers as retired King Norodom Sihanouk’s elusive pen pal, may have recently visited Phnom Penh, a letter posted on the retired King’s Web site Thurs­day suggests.

The Bangkok Post’s “realtime” Web site first published an un­signed letter on July 9, entitled “Royal Festivities,” in which the au­thor talked of meeting Norodom Si­hanouk’s old friend and discus­sing the wines served at a diploma­tic corps gala dinner that Ruom Ritt had just attended at the Royal Pa­lace.

After reading this, Count Xavier d’Abzac, a special adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, tried to track down Ruom Ritt at times rumored to be a pen name used by the re­tired King in Phnom Penh.

As he writes in his letter posted on the King’s Web site, d’Abzac’s in­quiries at hotels, pagodas and air­line companies failed to locate the mysterious Ruom Ritt.

Then a friend calling from Paris told d’Abzac that he had just met Ruom Ritt in Paris who told him about his recent trip to Cambodia. In his letter, d’Abzac gives Ruom Ritt’s trip information as told on the phone and asked Norodom Siha­nouk whether his friend actually was in Phnom Penh.

The retired King replied in a hand­­written letter posted on his site Thursday that his pen pal was in a hospital in France, which Ruom Ritt has not left since March 1970, and had not been to Cam­bodia.

“Ruom Ritt is witness to the history of Cambodia since the 1960s and even earlier, and has been close to the Father King,” d’Abzac said Thursday.

Ruom Ritt’s letters to Norodom Sihanouk were first published in the retired King’s monthly bulletin and more recently on his Web site.

His sharp comments on the po­litical situation in Cambodia over the years led Prime Minister Hun Sen to say in March that Ruom Ritt would be better off dead. In June, Norodom Sihanouk said Ruom Ritt would no longer write.

No photo of Ruom Ritt has been pub­licly released, and the retired King refuses to divulge his address in France.


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