PHNOM PENH, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian retired King Norodom Sihanouk died of natural cause at the age of 90 in Beijing, China, early Monday, a government statement said on Monday.
The King-Father Norodom Sihanouk died at 1:20 a.m. early Monday (local time in Phnom Penh) at the age of 90 due to natural cause in the Beijing Hospital of China, said the statement announced by the state-owned National Television of Cambodia.
"The government of Cambodia will bring his royal body from China to Phnom Penh in order to hold a traditional funeral at the Royal Palace," it said.
Born on Oct. 31, 1922, Norodom Sihanouk reigned Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on Oct. 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.
Sihanouk is the son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak. During his life time, he had held many positions since 1941, including two terms as the king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, and one as Cambodia's non-titled head of state.
He was named the Father of Independence, Territorial Integrity and Khmer Unification. Sihanouk's actual period of effective rule over Cambodia was from Nov. 9, 1953, when France granted independence to Cambodia, until March 18, 1970, when Lon Nol and the National Assembly deposed him.
In his early life from 1930 to 1940, Sihanouk received primary education in a Phnom Penh primary school; he pursued his secondary education in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam) at Lycee Chasseloup Laubat until his coronation and then later attended Cavalry military school in Saumur, France, from 1946 to 1948.
When his maternal grandfather, King Sisowath Monivong died on April 23, 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk as King of Cambodia. At that time, colonial Cambodia was part of French Indochina. His first coronation took place on Oct. 28, 1941.
After the country fully gained independence from France on March 2, 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father, established the Sangkum Reasniyum regime and took the post of prime minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections in September 1955.
His second coronation was made on Sept. 24, 1993; he abdicated the second time on Oct. 7, 2004 due to ill health.
On March 18, 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country traveling, the then Prime Minister Lon Nol convened the National Assembly, which voted to depose Sihanouk as head of state. After he was deposed, Sihanouk fled to Beijing.
During Lon Nol's regime (Khmer Republic), Sihanouk mostly lived in exile in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Prince Sihanouk returned to Cambodia on Nov. 14, 1991 after thirteen years in exile. In 1993, Sihanouk once again became King of Cambodia. However, he suffered from ill health and traveled repeatedly to Beijing for medical treatment.
Sihanouk's leisure interests included music and he had composed songs in Khmer, French and English for a number of films.