Happy Birthday to Queen Norodom Monineath of Cambodia, who turns 83 today! Born Paule-Monique Izzi, the daughter of a French banker and a Cambodian woman, her father was killed during the Second World War and she was educated at the Primary School Norodom, Sisowath High School, and the Lycée René Descartes all in Phnom Penh. In 1951, she met King Norodom Sihanouk when he awarded her first prize in a beauty pageant, becoming his sixth wife the following year and remaining his lifelong companion. The couple had two children, King Norodom Sihamoni and Prince Norodom Narindrapong. The King, who had began his reign during the French Protectorate, abdicated in 1955 but remained the Head of State of Cambodia, getting the title of Prince in 1960 until 1970, when he was overthrown after the Cambodian coup of 1970, and the then Princess Monineath joined her husband in exile in China and then North Korea. In 1975, the couple returned to Cambodia after the Prince allied himself with the Khmer Rouge, who while they made him the nominal Head of State, kept the Royal Family in house arrest and subjected them to a political re-education program. Some of the Prince’s children and grandchildren were executed, and the royal couple were only saved through foreign intervention, when the remaining Royal Family were allowed to flee to China in 1979, remaining in exile until 1991. In 1993, her husband was reinstated as Head of State and King, and Queen Norodom Monineath got the title of ‘Samdech Preah Reach Akka Mohèsey Norodom Monineath’. For a period, King Norodom Sihanouk suggested abdicating the throne and making her the Queen Regnant, but eventually abdicated for their son in 2004. Queen Norodom Monineath became the Queen Mother and after being widowed in 2004, she remains an active member of the Royal Family, accompanying her son at Official Events and on State Visits. I wish HM a very Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns!