Royalist Funcinpec party president and former first Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh passed away from illness yesterday afternoon in France where he was receiving medical treatment, Royal Palace and Funcinpec officials said.
Oum Daravuth, the advisor to the Queen Mother Secretariat, said yesterday that Prince Ranariddh passed away at 3:40 pm (9:40 am, France). He was 77.
Prince Ranariddh is the son of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk by his first wife Neak Moneang Phat Kangol. He was the half-brother of King Norodom Sihamoni.
King Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk were aware of his death and members of the royal family are preparing for a royal funeral, Daravuth told Khmer Times.
Prince Ranariddh was also president of King Sihamoni’s Supreme Privy Council of Cambodia, equivalent in rank to that of Prime Minister.
The prince’s death was also announced by Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith.
“I have just received information from Oum Daravuth that the Prince passed away at 9:40 am in France,” he said.
Funcinpec spokesman Nhoeun Raden told Khmer Times that Prince Ranariddh’s sons and daughter as well as members of the royal family are preparing a charter flight to bring his remains from Paris to Phnom Penh for a royal funeral.
In August 2018, Prince Ranariddh received medical treatment in Thailand after a car crash that seriously injured him and killed his second wife Ouk Phalla in June 2018. Since then, he has lived in France. He also had diabetes.
“He has had two traffic accidents and was old and also underwent several surgeries,” Raden said.
Prince Ranariddh was born on January 2, 1944, in Phnom Penh, the second son of King Father Norodom Sihanouk by his first wife Neak Moneang Phat Kanhol.
He and his first wife, Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh, have three children Prince Chakravuth, who is currently a vice-president of Funcinpec, Prince Sihariddh, and Princess Rattana Devi.
He also had two sons with second wife Phalla, Prince Sothearidh (born 2003) and Prince Ranavong (born 2011).
Prince Ranariddh became First Prime Minister after Funcinpec won the UN-brokered Election in 1993 while Prime Minister Hun Sen was Second Prime Minister in the coalition government.
He became president of the National Assembly of Cambodia from 1998 to 2006.
In his condolence letter to Princess Marie, Prime Minister Hun Sen extended his condolences over the passing away of Prince Ranariddh, saying the death is “the loss of a great royal figure who loves the Nation, Religion, King with a strong and wise conscience.”
Mr. Hun Sen also prayed for the soul of Prince Ranariddh to rest in peace.
Prince Ranariddh was educated in Phnom Penh and in France. In Cambodia, he was editor of Le Courier Khmer and delegate to the 1968 United Nations General Assembly.
According to “Historical Dictionary of Cambodia”, Prince Ranariddh married his first wife Eng Marie on September 14, 1968, in Phnom Penh. He then went to law school in Aix-en-Provence, France, where he studied for his doctorate in civil law, specializing in maritime law from January 1969, graduating in 1976.
He became a professor of political science and law at the University of Aix-en-Provence, living in France during the late 1970s. Assuming an active political role for the first time, he became his father’s personal representative in Cambodia and Thailand in July 1983 and was appointed commander-in-chief and chief of staff of the Armée Nationale Sihanoukienne in February 1986.
He then became president of Funcinpec, one of the three partners in the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, and was appointed to the Supreme National Council in 1990-1993.