The Death of a King

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The body of Norodom Sihanouk, the former king of Cambodia, arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday for a week of official mourning after his death at age 89 in Beijing on Monday. Sihanouk, who came to power during the age of French Indochina, was a towering figure in Cambodian politics, often compared in importance to contemporaries like Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Kim Il-Sung in their own countries.

During his lifetime, he won independence for his country, only to see much of its potential squandered: he was overthrown, Cambodia got drawn into in the Vietnam War and then decimated by the Khmer Rouge regime that he himself to some extent helped bring to power. Still, he retained the affection of his people through his populist image and his role as a symbol of unity and continuity in a country that has spent most of the past 60 years in tumult.

Above, a massive portrait of Sihanouk is displayed in Phnom Penh. Flags flew at half-mast this week, while many Cambodians wore black ribbons in mourning for their former king.

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Above, the sun sets as mourners burn incense and offer prayers at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh onWednesday.

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