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Cambodian princess who rescued traditional ballet dies at age 76

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By Reuters
Cambodian princess who rescued traditional ballet dies at age 76
FILE PHOTO: Cambodia's minister of culture Princess Norodom Bopha Devi examines some of the more than four tonnes of ancient artifacts recovered from the home of Khmer Rouge chief Ta Mok in Siem Reap, May 9. DW/CC/File Photo   -   Copyright  Darren Whiteside(Reuters)

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOMPENH (Reuters) – Cambodia’s Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, a former minister of culture who helped revive traditional Apsara dance after the brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge regime nearly wiped it out, has died at age 76, the royal palace said on Monday.

The princess died of natural causes in a hospital in neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia’s Royal Palace said in a Facebook post.

The daughter of the late king Norodom Sihanouk and half sister of current King Norodom Sihamoni, Bopha Devi at young age became a dancer of Cambodian ballet, a form of stylized dance created in the royal courts for entertainment and ceremonies.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge and a peace process that ended a decade of civil war, she served was the minister of culture and fine arts from 1998 to 2004.

Bopha Devi’s cousin Prince Sisowath Thomico said her legacy was to rebuild the royal ballet troupe when she returned to Cambodia in early 1990s.

“Cambodia will remember that thanks to the Royal Highness Norodom Bopha Devi, the Cambodian Royal Ballet has been enlisted as a part of the world heritage,” he said.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)