Flags in Phnom Penh were flying at half mast, people were wearing black ribbons, and Buddhist monks took part in mass-prayers at the Royal Palace. Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk died in October 2012 and the nation has been in mourning since. His embalmed body had been lying in state at the Royal Palace. The King Norodom Sihanouk funeral was a week-long event, which came to an end yesterday when the late King Father’s remains were taken from the cremation site to their final resting place in the Royal Palace.
The Cambodian government organised a large procession for the beloved King Father during which his sarcophagus was driven through the streets of Phnom Penh. The King Norodom Sihanouk funeral was a big event. 2 million people from all over the country lined the streets to catch a final glimpse of the King Father and pay their last respects. The procession took about 5 hours in total. Statesmen, civil servants, army officials, indigenous communities, scouts, religious groups and the King Father’s family all took part.
When the coffin passed people dressed in black and white gently weeped, prayed and bowed. After the procession the coffin was bought to the mausoleum, where Sihanouk’s coffin would stay for another 3 days before the cremation. Thousands of people queued up to say their final goodbyes before the cremation. Some ashes were scattered on the Mekong river and others in the grounds of the Royal Palace near those of his daughter, Kunthea Buppha, who died aged three.
|The late King Father’s wife and his son King Norodom Sihamoni taking part in procession at mausoleum|
|People queuing at mausoleum|
It was a privilege being able to take part in the King Sihanouk Norodom funeral and even after having lived here for over a year, it helped me understand the country a little more.