Norodom Sihanouk, who was 89, has died in a Beijing hospital. Cambodia’s Prime Minister and the current king, Sihanouk’s son, travelled to China to bring back the body.
Sihanouk came to the throne for the first time in 1941, ruled again in the 1990s before abdicating in 2004 due to ill health.
A leading figure in Cambodia’s history throughout the 20th century, Sihanouk led the country to independence from France in 1953. He abdicated two years later in favour of his father, in order to become Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
In the 1970s, he was forced into exile in Beijing following a US backed coup. From there he brokered a deal with Maoist rebel force, the Khymer Rouge, who seized power in 1975.
Sihanouk was again installed as head of state, but detained in the royal palace for most of the regime’s four year rule.
He later condemned the Khymer Rouge’s brutal regime, during which an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died, including several of his own children.
Despite long periods of exile and abdication, Sihanouk remained an influential and popular figure.