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 Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More