Cambodia cremates 'King-Father' Sihanouk

Now Reading:

Cambodia cremates 'King-Father' Sihanouk

Text size Aa Aa

The body of Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk has been cremated in the capital Phnom Penh.

Since his death in October he had lain in state. On Friday he was paraded through the capital, and on Monday the pyre was lit by his widow Queen Monique and the son he abdicated for, King Norodom Sihamoni, in 2004.

A number of foreign dignitaries were present to honour the man who became a teenage king in 1941 as world war was raging around his country, including the French prime minister and the brother of the Japanese Crown Prince.

Sihanouk led Cambodia to independence from France in 1953, but in 1970 became a prisoner in his own palace as a coup and then the Khmer Rouge left two million of his people dead. They included five of his own children.

A survivor, he returned to the throne in 1993, and his darker side, past alliances with the Khmer and supression of dissent, have been set aside as the people mourn and praise the man many call their “King-Father”.

His giant personality meant he retained great influence until the end, and that has been seen in the tens of thousands of Cambodians who have come from all over the country to pay their last respects.