Breaking News Emails
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — There were no golden carriages.
Friday's funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah was a relatively simple affair in line with the austere form of Islam practiced by one of the world's wealthiest ruling families.
The body of the former custodian of Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, was bathed according to Islamic ritual. The late ruler, whose net worth has been estimated at around $20 billion, was then wrapped in two pieces of plain white cloth — the standard shroud for all Muslims.
According to tradition, nothing out of the ordinary was to be done to King Abdullah's body. It was taken to the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque in the capital Riyadh for the funeral prayers at around 3:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. ET). In line with codes that dictate that a tribal chieftain be accessible to everyone in his community, the ceremony was open to the public. Women were able to attend, sitting in the women's section of the mosque.
After the funeral, Abdullah's shrouded body was carried on a board and driven across an empty desert to Al Oud cemetery, which is home to raised graves. A black truck bearing Abdullah's body came to a stop, and Saudi royals gathered at his gravesite. His successor, the new King Salman, was dressed in a simple black gown.
A group of men lowered the pallet containing Abdullah's body to the ground, and gently tipped it toward the unmarked grave. The body was set inside the burial plot, and mourners threw handfuls of yellow-colored soil onto it. That dirt was then covered with a bed of small stones as the mourners look down. They slowly turned away, led by King Salman.
While public displays of grief are frowned on under the strict form of Wahhabi Islam practiced in the kingdom, tens of thousands are expected to pay their condolences during the three-day period of mourning. Most of the visiting will be held at the king's palace and all the senior royals will be there to receive Salman's subjects and visiting heads of state and dignitaries, including Vice President Joe Biden.
Visitors will be greeted by a line of royals arranged according to age instead of rank.
The king's wives and daughters will also receive female visitors in their palaces.
Mourning will last for three days during which kingdom's flags will fly at half staff but businesses and shops will remain open.
At the same time, subjects and leaders of Saudi Arabia's many tribes will pledge their allegiance to King Salman, although this traditional "bayaa" ceremony scheduled to start after the last daily prayer at around 7:30 p.m. on Friday (11:30 a.m. ET).
NBC News' Charlene Gubash contributed to this report.