In the Cambodian royal calendar, this is about as big a homecoming as could be imagined. The return of not just the future King, but the former King and Queen as well. Thousands of students and civil servants have been given the day off so they can welcome Prince Sihamoni and his mother and father. Their return from Beijing, where the former King had been receiving medical care, brings to a conclusion a nervous moment for Cambodia. Many had feared that the surprise abdication of King Sihanouk, who first took the throne 60 years ago, might lead to instability in a country notorious for political upheaval.
But for those lucky enough to glimpse the motorcade of the royals as they drive the distance from the capital's glossy, modern airport to the ornate Khymer Palace, this is a day of celebration. While much of the power wielded by the royal family in Cambodia will stay in the hands of the former King, he has guaranteed the future of the monarchy by organising the succession of his son. Prince Sihamoni is due to be crowned at a ceremony next week.