The coffin bearing the remains of King Father Norodom Sihanouk
leave the Royal Palace by the Victory Gate, bound to be lifted onto the hearse and
begin the funerary procession around Phnom Penh.
February 1, 2013
Today, February 1, was the first day of King Father Sihanouk's funeral proceedings, a week long mourning period in which the King Father's mortal remains will receive their final treatment. A special crematorium and funerary complex has been constructed for the King Father over the last three months, located next to the Palace and in front of the National Museum, in the Veal Preah Man (Meru) Park. Today the King Father's coffin was moved from the Royal Palace, where he has been lying in state for three months, to the crematorium via an elaborate procession that circuited the inner city.
Just before 8:00AM, the coffin was first moved from the Preah Tineang Tevea Vinichhay (Throne Hall) and Royal Palace grounds, through the Victory Gate, straight up the road in front of the Palace (Preah Ponhea Yath Av.) to the area of the Preah Ong Dong Ar Temple on the riverfront, where the funerary procession and Royal Hearse awaited on Sisowath Quay Blvd. The King and Queen Mother followed and observed the coffin lifted to the hearse, after which they returned to the Palace. As the procession began to move at about 8:45AM, a cannon salute was fired from 12 artillery pieces lining the riverfront next to the temple. (I didn't count the shots but I would estimate about 24.) The procession consisted of more than a dozen vehicles and floats as well as thousands of mourners, family, dignitaries, military and representatives of ethnic groups clad in various traditional dress.
The procession traveled a 6 kilometer circuit, beginning on Sisowath Quay in front of the Preah Ong Dong Ar Temple and finishing at the Veal Preah Man crematorium. It began traveling north up the riverfront, turned west to Wat Phnom, semi-circled the roundabout and proceeded south on Norodom Blvd to the Independence Monument, tuned east on Sihanouk and continued to Sothearos Blvd, turned north and returned to the Palace area, arriving at the the front of Veal Peah Man crematorium at about noon. All businesses were closed along the entire route and people forbidden from standing above the procession on balconies and roof tops. Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the way, but in my estimation the crowd was noticeably smaller and thinner than the crowd that showed for the return of the King Father's remains from China 3 months ago. A dress code was fairly strictly enforced by minders and police - white shirt/blouse, black pants/skirt, black arm bands or ribbons, no hats, etc.
As the returning procession passed the Royal Palace on Sothearos, it stopped at the Victory Gate where the King and Queen Mother rejoined the procession to the crematorium. A second cannon salute was fired at about 12:15PM.
Over the next two days the coffin will remain in place at the crematorium. Various religious ceremonies will be performed. The actual cremation will take place Monday, February 4.
King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath
Prime Minister Hun Sen
Coffin bearing the remains of King Father Norodom Sihanouk
Traditional dancers wait for the proceedings to begin
First cannon salute. Riverfront, Phnom Penh.
Frontispiece of the hearse
Neak Bun Chhay (second from left holding flower,) in the funeral procession
Procession approaches Palace and the end of the city circuit.
Procession mourners (representing tribal peoples)
Hearse bearing coffin passing the Royal Palace at the end of the procession.
One of two animal floats