News / Asia

Former Cambodian King Cremated

Two girls offer prayers to Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, February 4, 2013.
Two girls offer prayers to Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, February 4, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
Cambodians gathered in Phnom Penh to cremate the country’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk. In recent days, tens of thousands of Cambodians have paid their respects at the cremation sit next to the Royal Palace.
 
For Cambodians, the chance to say farewell to their former king has now ended.

On Friday morning, tens of thousands people lined the boulevards of the Cambodian capital to watch Sihanouk’s gilded coffin, the centerpiece of a mile-long funeral procession, pass them on its way to the cremation site.

  • Fireworks explode over the Tonle Sap River for the cremation of Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013.
  • Cambodian Queen Monique receives condolences at the crematorium site of her husband, the late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013.
  • Cambodians pray near the cremation of former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
  • The coffin carrying the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession leaves the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, February 1, 2013.
  • Mourners pay their respects to the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession in Phnom Penh, February 1, 2013.
  • Cambodian Army soldiers practice how to fire artillery launchers in front of Royal Palace ahead of the funeral for former King Norodom Sihanouk January 31, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
  • A woman mourns the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession in Phnom Penh.
  • A mourner offers prayers to the late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk ahead of Sihanouk's funeral.
  • Buddhist monks offer prayers to Cambodian late King Norodom Sihanouk ahead of his cremation in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tens of thousands more, clad in black and white - the colors of mourning - filed past Sihanouk’s coffin Saturday and Sunday. Many had come from the rural provinces, where the majority of Cambodians live, to pay their respects.

By midday Monday thousands more were gathered near the Royal Palace as the time for Sihanouk’s cremation approached.

On Monday evening at six, the funeral pyre will be lit by Sihanouk’s widow and by his son - the current king of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni.

Ambassador Julio Jeldres, the late king’s official biographer, explains what will happen next.

“Well after the cremation today the ashes are left there at the crematorium until they cool down. Then they are washed and then they are divided in two parts,” said Jeldres.

The first part will be placed in a golden urn and placed in the Throne Room at the palace until workers enlarge a stupa (Buddhist reliquary) within the grounds to take the urn. That stupa contains the ashes of Sihanouk’s daughter, who died when five years old from leukemia.

“The other part will be put in another container and it will be taken in a boat accompanied by the Royal Family and then dropped at the confluence of the two rivers - the Tonle Sap and the Mekong - which is called the Chaktomuk," he said.  "It is in front of the Royal Palace.”

Jeldres expects the scattering of the ashes will take place later this week.

Norodom Sihanouk is widely seen as the father of Cambodia’s independence, which he secured from the former colonial power France in 1953. He was far more than a mere monarch, though, and after gaining a taste for politics in the early 1950s he abdicated and became prime minister of Cambodia and, later, head of state.

In 1991, King Sihanouk returned to Cambodia and two years later he was crowned king once again, nearly four decades after he had first abdicated.

But in 2004, he stepped down for the second time, frustrated at the limitations of being a constitutional monarch.  King Sihanouk spent his final years in Beijing where he was treated for a number of ailments. He died there of a heart attack in October, aged 89.

Among foreign dignitaries attending will be Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister of France, and the premiers of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Some Cambodians will doubtlessly remember King Sihanouk’s ill-fated 1970s alliance with the murderous Khmer Rouge. But many others will dwell on his achievements while in office, including his drive in those early years for independence, for the country’s territorial integrity and his drive to improve education and health.

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid