The whole Kingdom of Cambodia woke up to a very, very sad news of the King-Father’s death last Monday.
True, we knew that the former King Norodom Sihanouk was ill eversince he stepped down as King in 2004 but news such as this always comes as a shock.
Yesterday, the King-Father’s body was flown back to Cambodia from Beijing, China where he had resided in the last years receiving medical treatment there.
Yesterday, the King-Father was flown back to Cambodia; he is finally home in his motherland, and with his people.
With this picture (which my brother took yesterday at the Royal Palace), I am going to pursue a different take on the “signs”meme this week.
Men, women, and children – young and old alike – gathered at the Royal Palace (and the city’s main streets) as early as 11am despite yesterday’s scorching heat. They wore white and black clothes with black ribbons and armbands, a conventional sign of mourning. It was difficult to estimate how many people were on the streets yesterday but it was clearly more than the expected 100,000.
I also observed that there are a lot of young Cambodian males who shaved their heads, such as the one in the picture. Young Buddhist males shaving their heads is a also sign of mourning and respect to the dead, usually an older family member.
I’m sure many of you, by now, have read articles about the King-Father’s colourful, controversial life. I like what my friend said the other day. The King-Father may be all kinds of things but he is larger than life. He really embodied Cambodia, its ups and downs, weaknesses and strengths.
Watching yesterday’s live coverage was very touching and emotional and it gave me goosebumps. No matter how cynical some foreigners may be to the Royal Family, I have seen with my own eyes how the Cambodian people truly, truly love the King-Father.
Welcome home, King-Father. May you rest in peace.