A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Prince Norodom Vatvani, father of Princess Norodom Soma, dies at age 77

Last Updated on 25 December 2012 
Phnom Penh Post

By Sen David

121225 02b
Mourners pray in front of a shrine dedicated to the late Prince Norodom Vatvani, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina /Phnom Penh Post
Prince Norodom Vatvani passed away peacefully at the age of 77 on Sunday evening after a years-long battle with heart disease, members of the royal family said yesterday.
According to his daughter, Post columnist Princess Soma Norodom, Vatvani had struggled with illness for years due to, among other things, a heart condition and diabetes.
His body is being kept at Than Pagoda in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district until Thursday’s cremation, she said.  
King Norodom Sihamoni was scheduled to pay his respects last night.
During the Cambodian civil war, said Princess Soma, Vatvani trained Khmer pilots for the US Air Force in Thailand. 
When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, she added, Vatvani, his family and many of his trainees were among the first refugees to be sent to the US.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, she continued, Vatvani was “one of the first people to come and rebuild the country”.
Vatvani was in the Royal Air Force’s first graduating class of pilots, and was commander-in-chief of the air force from 1993 to 1997.
He was also a founding member of the Cambodian Veterans Association.
His nephew, Prince Sisowath Chakrey Nuokpol, said that Vatvani had helped the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk build the Funcinpec party.
However, his daughter said, Vatvani “didn’t love politics”.
“He loved the air force,” she said. “He loved planes. He taught all the members of the royal family how to jump out of a plane.”
According to Princess Soma, Vatvani was survived by six children, most of whom live in the United States.
Prince Chakrey Noukpol, a nephew of the late prince, characterised his uncle as someone who had always worked hard for the royal family.
“On behalf of the royal family in this generation, and as a nephew favoured by Norodom Vatvani, we are so regretful and so shocked that the royal family lost him after our late King Norodom Sihanouk passed away recently,” he said. 

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Stuart White


Anonymous said...

I would like to say it is very sad to hear that other member of royal family passed away during this this of year.May his soul rest in peace May god bless his soul....


Anonymous said...

Soma my princess i cry with you from a distance mourning your lost.May your father soul rest in peace.Buddha words;karmang tuk kang ak nut ta.....Mean roub mean tuk min teang leouy....


Anonymous said...

I share Princess Soma's and her sister's grief. May his soul rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

May I share this moment of a very tough time with you. I had my father passed away last year so I know the feeling of the loss of the loved one. May you and your family overcome this sadness. Please accept my sympathy and condolence for your great loss.

Anonymous said...

Let the begone be gone... one single thing which I'm concerned the most will be that if there is room in the political stage for any DECENT people from the Royal family to get in.

Anonymous said...

នៃអ្នកជាទីស្រឡាញ់របស់យើង ?

ស្បើយ, តែសេចក្ដីស្រឡាញ់ និង
គោរព ចងចាំនៅ នៅតែមានជានិច្ច
យូរអង្វែងកាល តរៀងទៅ។