The King’s Last Wonders

“I had no idea we love him so much”, tells Sokim with a stumped look. She is one of the thousands people dressed in black and white who came in front of Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace to pay a last tribute to their King-Father. At 89 years old, former King Norodom Sihanouk died in Beijing on October 15th, 2012 after he reigned over Cambodia for almost 25 years. His body made his way from the Chinese capital to his last resting place in two days. For seven days, thousands of people coming from all over the Kingdom were rushing fervently there, awaiting a last chance to say goodbye.

In each and every heart, King Norodom Sihanouk remains the father of the Independence, setting the Kingdom free from the French in 1953. When the Republic handed him the golden Crown of Angkor Kings over twelve years before, he answered with a flood of tears. Later, remembering it, he will write in his Memoirs: “I am too young and I don’t think I can do this”. He was 18 years old. While the population might not have any remembering of his achievements, “Sihanouk’s time” as most call it, will remain a kind of Golden Age in Cambodia.

It was almost 8 PM on the sixth night, when the whole city started to applause, eyes towards the sky. A cry of joy arises: “Look ! We can see him ! He is up there! » would be told anybody who would look somewhere else. King Sihanouk’s face just appeared on the moon and all the pictures published on the very next day, will become as many compelling evidences of the King-Father’s everlasting kindness.

On the seventh day, his son, King Sihamoni and the Mother-Queen, Monireth, modestly greet their faithful subjects. Both joined the prayers, and the jasmine flowers to stand next to them in front of the Palace. On this last day of mourning, the pale candle lights met dusk and let Sihanouk’s face appear once again in the clouds of incense, greeting his people with a last smile.

Text by Clothilde LE Coz (