Royal Order of Cambodia
The Royal Order of Cambodia (French: Ordre Royal de Cambodge) was a French colonial chivalric order of knighthood in Colonial Cambodia
Colonial Cambodia
In 1863, Cambodia under king Norodom became a protectorate of France. In October 1887, the French announced the formation of the Union Indochinoise , which at that time comprised Cambodia, already an autonomous French possession, and the three regions of Vietnam...

, still in use in the kingdom of Cambodia.


In 1845 Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 became part of a single protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 over the whole old kingdom of the Khmer
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. With French support Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 became an independent kingdom again under king Norodom I, though the king had to accept the protectorate and strong French influence over his national government in return for this support. On February 8, 1864 the king founded the Royal Order of Cambodia "as an Order of Merit
Order of Merit (disambiguation)
Order of Merit may refer to:Extant national orders:* Order of Merit of Antigua and Barbuda, see Commonwealth realms orders and decorations* Order of Merit * Order of Merit of the Bahamas* Order of Merit of the Police Forces...

 with five classes", and it was granted after 1896 both by the Cambodian kings and by the French protectorate. The French President was ex officio a Grand Cross of the Order. The Order served to distinguish civilians and soldiers of the king or foreign powers. In 1896 the order was included in the ranks of French colonial orders of knighthood.

For French appointments, the recipient had to be at least 29 years old and enter the Order first as a knight, to be promoted to a higher grade after a certain period. Only officers of the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 could become a commander in the Order and only commanders of the Légion d'honneur could be Commanders or Officers of the Order. Apart from decorations for bravery or merit during foreign campaigns, the French colonial orders also required that a certain number of years had to have been spent in the tropics or overseas to be eligible - in this case, three years in Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

, preferably in Cambodia. From 1933 the Order was also granted for the organization of exhibitions dedicated to Cambodia and sacred events important to the French colonies. None of these rules applied for grants by the King of Cambodia himself.

The colonial and overseas orders were immediately contingent on the French orders and awarded on ministerial orders. Those awarded it not only had to pay for their own registration and qualifications, but also had to buy their own insignia.


In 1948 France ceased granting the order. Formally it remained a French colonial policy, but it was now only granted by the King of Cambodia. The order has since then been one of the historical orders of France
Historical orders of France
This page is a list of the orders of knighthood and Orders of Merit awarded by France, in the order they were established or incorporated in France, and their origins.-485-987:*Order of Saint Remigius 485...


On September 1, 1950 the (colonial) French order-system was reformed. The Order of the Star of Anjouan and the Order of the Black Star were formalised as French Overseas Orders
French overseas orders
By a decree of 1 September 1950, the Fifth French Republic set up two French overseas orders of knighthood :*Order of the Black Star* Order of the Star of Anjouan...

. The other three were the "Order of States Associated to the French Union" (French: "Ordre des États de l'Union Française Associés"). In 1955, Cambodia became independent. The order was approved by King Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk regular script was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his semi-retirement and voluntary abdication on 7 October 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni...

 during his government and also granted during his exile in Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. Even after the restoration of the Khmer dynasty it remained the highest Cambodian distinction.


  • Grand Cross

Medal worn on a large ribbon at the left hip and star worn to the gem's left.
  • Grand Officer

Large medal on a ribbon round the neck, and the star of the order.


  • Commander

Large medal worn on a ribbon round the neck.
  • Officer

Medal on a rosette on the left breast.
  • Knight

Medal on a ribbon on the left breast, with no gold on the gem.


The medal of the order comes in many different forms, as a slightly elongated silver or gold star surmounted by a Cambodian crown and with an image of the king's crown and coat of arms in gold on a violet blue background and surrounded by a red circle. The reverse of the medal is left rough. To promote the order if it was awarded by the French, the Cambodian crown was replaced with a European one surmounted by a small cross, and in the early years the order was even awarded without any crown.

The central image on the star of the order is the same as the medal, though the crown is missing and the rays are usually smooth. The star is elongated, with the vertical rays longer than the horizontal rays. The regalia of Knights is in silver, whilst those of the higher grades are gold. The medal and star are equally for civilians and soldiers. The ribbon of the order was originally green with a red border, changing in 1899 to white with an orange border (in the same year the French government changed the colours of the ribbons of all five colonial orders), before reverting to the original black ribbon when it became a purely Cambodian order again.


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