Politics

Cambodians gather for funeral of late King Norodom Sihanouk

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Nuns pray in front of the Royal Palace on Jan. 31, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Former King Norodom Sihanouk died of a heart attack last October at the age of 89.

Credit:

Chris McGrath

Tens of thousands of Cambodians have gathered in Phnom Penh for the start of a lavish funeral for the late King Norodom Sihanouk, who died in Beijing in October, at age 89. Since his death in October, King Sihanouk's body has remained in state at the Cambodian Royal Palace.

Sihanouk, a father of 14, was crowned in 1941 and served as king for six decades, overseeing a rare period of political stability after his nation's independence from France, before civil war and the emergence of the murderous Khmer Rouge.

He was toppled by a US-backed coup in 1970 and exiled to China. He regained the throne in 1993, but abdicated in 2004 due to illness, leaving the throne to his son.

The prime ministers of China and Thailand — as well as other world leaders — are expected to attend the cremation ceremonies on Monday, Feb. 4.

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-9.jpg

    A Cambodian woman prays for the late former King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Jan. 29, 2013.

    Credit:

    Tang Chhin Sothy

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-1.jpg

    Nuns pray in front of the Royal Palace on Jan. 31, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Former King Norodom Sihanouk died of a heart attack last October at the age of 89.

    Credit:

    Chris McGrath

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-3.jpg

    People carry portraits of former King Norodom Sihanouk during a funeral procession on Feb. 1, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Over half a million mourners lined the streets to pay their respects to the former king who died of a heart attack last October at the age of 89.

    Credit:

    Chris McGrath

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-4.jpg

    King Norodom Sihamoni (L) and his mother Queen Norodom Monineath pay their respects as the coffin carrying the body of former King Norodom Sihanouk leaves the grounds of the Royal Palace on Feb. 1, 2013. Over half a million mourners lined the streets to pay their respects during the funeral procession for the former king, which finished at the crematorium where his funeral pyre will be lit by his wife and son on Feb. 4.

    Credit:

    Chris McGrath

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-7.jpg

    Cambodian Queen Norodom Monineath (C), King Norodom Sihamoni (L) and Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) react during a funeral procession for the late former King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 1, 2013. A sea of mourners filled the streets of the Cambodian capital on for a lavish funeral for the revered former king.

    Credit:

    Tang Chhin Sothy

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    Cambodian people pray as they look at the funeral procession of the late former King Norodom Sihanouk near the the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 1, 2013. King Sihanouk will be cremated on Feb. 4.

    Credit:

    Nicolas Asfouri

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    A woman mourns for former King Norodom Sihanouk as the coffin is paraded through the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 1, 2013.

    Credit:

    Chris McGrath

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-6.jpg

    Cambodian monks pray for the late former King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Jan. 31, 2013.

    Credit:

    Nicolas Asfouri

  • norodom-sihanouk-cremation-ceremony-8.jpg

    Cambodian Buddhist monks pray for the late former King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Jan. 29, 2013.

    Credit:

    Tang Chhin Sothy