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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Sihamoni crowned Cambodian king
Cambodia's King Sihamoni on his coronation day
King Sihamoni's coronation began with a Buddhist ceremony
Norodom Sihamoni has been formally crowned as Cambodia's new monarch.

In a ceremony broadcast on national television, the 51-year-old former ballet dancer officially took over from his father, Norodom Sihanouk.

"I swear to follow the constitution and other laws of the kingdom of Cambodia so as to serve the interests of the nation and the people," he said.

Friday's glittering coronation ceremony is the centre point of three days of celebrations to usher in the new king.

The streets in Phnom Penh have been adorned with Cambodian flags and portraits, and Friday declared a national holiday.

In the first act of his coronation day, King Sihamoni walked through the Royal Palace accompanied by Buddhist monks in saffron robes and bodyguards in black suits.

Cambodia's King Sihamoni on his coronation day

He took his place on a throne beneath a gilded pagoda, where he offered Buddhist prayers to the rising sun.

His father anointed his head with nine jars of holy water, in a symbolic gesture to bless his reign.

Then, in front of an audience of top government figures, monks, royalty and diplomats, King Sihamoni took the oath marking the official start of his reign.

As is traditional, he repeated the sentence three times, and bowed after he had completed each other.

Smooth succession

The succession process began earlier this month, when former King Sihanouk abdicated due to ill health.

There was no legal provision in the event of a monarch's abdication, and laws had to be rushed through parliament to enable a throne council to convene and choose a successor.

One of his potential strengths is that he is seen as apolitical.

While Cambodian kings used to have great authority, the position is now largely symbolic and wields no real power.

King Sihamoni, 29 Oct

But it remains an important post because of the reverence Cambodian people give to the royal family.

Former King Sihanouk is widely revered after 60 years on the throne, and although little was known about his son and successor before he was chosen as the new monarch, Cambodians are already warming to their new king.

Sihamoni has spent much of his life outside Cambodia - as a ballet dancer and teacher, as well as Cambodia's ambassador to the UN cultural agency, Unesco.

He is much less known than his half-brother Prince Ranariddh, who heads the royalist political party Funcinpec.

Sihanouk is still likely to remain influential even after his son is officially inaugurated.

The government has already declared that he will be now known as The Great Heroic King Sihanouk.

Cambodia's new king crowned in a lavish ceremony

In Pictures: King Sihamoni's coronation
29 Oct 04  |  In Pictures
Profile: King Sihamoni
14 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific
A new king for Cambodia: Your views
14 Oct 04  |  Have Your Say
Cambodia passes succession law
08 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia's succession riddle
08 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Norodom Sihanouk
14 Oct 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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