Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Kantha Bopha Memorial

HRH Princess Kantha Bopha Memorial Sanctuary at the Silver Pagoda (next to the Royal Palace)

The late King Father Sihanouk was cremated two days ago. Yesterday the ashes were collected from the crematorium (Veal Preah Man) and most were taken by royal barge to Chaktomuk and scattered to the Mekong River. Some of the ashes will be taken back to the Royal Palace to be placed in a 'Diamond Urn' and kept there. AFP reported that an unnamed Palace official said "the royal urn containing the King-Father's remains will be kept in the Kantha Bopha stupa," which would make a very touching final resting place for the late King Father.

Princess Kantha Bopha was the beloved daughter of King Sihanouk and Princess Sisowath Pongsanmoni, born in 1948 when Sihanouk was a young King and Cambodia still under French colonial rule. She died of leukemia in 1952 at the age of 3 (or 4). It is said that King Sihanouk was inconsolably grief stricken, even carrying the urn containing her ashes when traveling abroad. In 1960 Sihanouk erected a memorial sanctuary to the Princess (pictured above) on the grounds of Wat Preah Keo Morokat (the 'Silver Pagoda') next to the Royal Palace, the sanctuary set amongst the stupas of Cambodian Kings.

The sanctuary is referred to as the 'Kantha Bopha Memorial Sanctuary' in Julio Jeldres' authoritative 'The Royal Palace of Phnom Penh' (1999.) I'm not sure if this is also the said "Kantha Bopha stupa" of the AFP article, but am unaware of any other structure on the Palace/Pagoda grounds of that name.

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