PHNOM PENH —
The urn containing the late king Norodom Sihanouk’s remains was moved out of its crematorium on Thursday and into the Royal Palace, its final place of rest, on the last day of a weeklong funeral rite for the former monarch.
A portion of Sihanouk’s remains were cast into the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers on Tuesday. A golden urn containing the other portion was moved from the Preah Meru field, where Sihanouk’s cremation took place on Monday, to the palace, in a procession limited to members of the royal family and key dignitaries.
The golden urn will sit permanently inside one of the stupas of the Royal Palace, near the remains of his deceased daughter, Kunthea Buppha, who died at age three.
The procession was not open to the public, but tens of thousands of Cambodians have come to Phnom Penh to mourn the October death of the former king, who was beloved and revered by many Cambodians.
Thei Kun, a 68-year-old from Svay Rieng province, made her way to the Royal Palace just as the procession was ending.
“I pray for His Majesty to rest in peace and help protect the people all over the country, so that we are not looked down on by any neighboring countries,” she told VOA Khmer.
Ouk Mony, who came with her friends to witness the last of the weeklong ceremonies surrounding Sihanouk’s funeral, called Sihanouk “a national pillar and an outstanding hero.”
“Since his death, it seems we have no one else we can trust,” she said.
Despite his one-time alliance with the Khmer Rouge, following his ouster in a US-backed coup in 1970, Sihanouk is greatly respected among most Cambodians. His passing has made him an icon even for many too young to remember his rule. A musician and filmmaker, Sihanouk’s works are still widely viewed by Cambodians, especially in his passing.
Ouk Mony said the late king should be seen as a model for Cambodia’s leaders.
“I would like [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to follow in His Majesty’s footsteps, by leading the country as well as the king did,” she said.
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