Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, the daughter of Cambodia’s late King Norodom Sihanouk and half-sister of King Norodom Sihamoni, has died at the age of 76.
Princess Buppha Devi passed away on Nov. 18, as announced by Cambodia’s Constitutional Council, of which she was a member. Details of her death were not disclosed, according to The Washington Post.
Her death was also confirmed by King Sihamoni’s cousin, Prince Sisowath Tesso. She passed away at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand where she received treatment for her illness two weeks ago, Khmer Times reported.
“She was so tired, her health was weak and she was sick, but she never told us that she was unwell. She went for a treatment at a hospital in Bangkok, but it was too late to save her,” Prince Tesso said.
“I was really shocked and I cried when I received the information that she died. I love her so much. She is a good person to me and all Cambodian people. Her body will be brought into the Kingdom soon.”
Born on Jan. 8, 1943, Princess Buppha Devi was the daughter of Sihanouk’s first wife, the late Phat Kanthol. The princess’ official title was Her Royal Highness Samdech Reach Botrei Preah Ream Norodom Buppha Devi.
Princess Buppha Devi learned to dance as a child. She became the lead dancer in the royal troupe by 16 and played a major role in her father’s cultural diplomacy, especially in presenting shows for foreign leaders.
She served as the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts from 1998 to 2004, and was the director of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia.
According to Prince Tesso, the princess loved artists and continued to work with them at her home despite her age.
“I remember that she said she was so tired, that she did not have enough time to relax and sleep, but she wanted to share her knowledge with the next generation,” he said.
“She never denied sharing or teaching dancing to anyone. She never flaunted her status as a princess, she performed as a simple person.”
UNESCO expressed its sincere condolences to the passing of Princess Buppha Devi in its website post.
“For many decades, Princess Norodom Buppha Devi has played an instrumental role in safeguarding and promoting the rich tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage of Cambodia,” UNESCO said in the statement.
“Princess Buppha Devi was above all a great artist who devoted her life to the renaissance of the Khmer Royal Ballet, and worked tirelessly for its international recognition on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”