The late Prince Norodom Ranariddh was cremated at the Veal Preah Meru Square in front of Wat Botum near the Royal Palace on December 8 in the presence of King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Prime Minister Hun Sen and members of the royal family.
Princess Marie – Prince Ranariddh’s ex-wife and mother to his three eldest children – said her family was honoured by the presence of the King, Queen Mother and Prime Minister and all of the other officials and royals who came to pay their last respects.
“My children and I – as well as the other relatives of the Prince – believe that his soul is taking pride in your being here to show your love and respect for him and I feel the same way,” she said at the cremation ceremony.
Prince Ranariddh, the half-brother of King Norodom Sihamoni, passed away on November 28 in France at the age of 77. His body was returned to Cambodia on December 5.
Hun Sen expressed his sorrow for the loss of Prince Ranariddh, saying he regarded him as an outstanding dignitary with fervent patriotism for the nation, religion and the monarchy and that he possessed a strong will, principled conscience and clever mind.
Former opposition leader Kem Sokha also paid his respects to the Prince on December 7, expressing his regrets and condolences.
“I was once a colleague of the Prince and I can recall the many lessons that I learned from him,” Sokha said in a Facebook post.
Born on January 2, 1944, Prince Norodom Ranariddh was the third of 14 children and the second son of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Aside from being a member of the royal family, he was chiefly known to the public in his role as president of the royalist FUNCINPEC party, which he founded, and he also served as chairman of the Supreme Advisory Council to the King.
Prior to entering into Cambodia’s electoral politics during the UN transition period, Prince Ranariddh lived in France where he graduated from the University of Provence and had an active career as an academic researcher and law professor there.
In his early political career, the Prince served as Cambodia’s First Prime Minister from 1993 to 1997 – following the Kingdom’s first election organised by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) – and then president of the National Assembly from 1998 to 2006, before largely retiring from an active role in politics in his later years.