(Hassan M. Fattah)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 2 - With his brothers and sons circled round his body, and helicopters circling overhead, King Fahd bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia was buried Tuesday in a nondescript grave, near the practically identical graves of at least two other kings before him.
The solemn but simple funeral ceremony began Tuesday afternoon as mourners packed the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque on the outskirts of the city to pray for the soul of the monarch, who had reigned for 23 years.
King Fahd's sons carried the body in on a wooden stretcher and placed it in the middle of the mosque, amid thousands of dignitaries, members of royalty and the new king, Abdullah. The funeral prayer itself lasted only two minutes, and the body was then carried to an ambulance for a procession of cars to the cemetery.
At the cemetery, Mansour Hideyan and Salih Hooban, both members of the king's ceremonial guard who had spent most of their adult lives with the king and his family, shared a somber moment remembering him. "We will all be going the same way, just as he did," said Mr. Hooban, pointing to the mound and the crushed stone used to mark the monarch's grave. "A king died, and another took his place. That's it. The first went as far as he could for us, and we hope the other will do the same. This is our way."
Mr. Hideyan said: "He was an Arab in our time, a unique man. Fahd had a power and a personality that was all his own."
As the Saudi royalty entered the cemetery under tight security, family members quickly gathered round the grave site, with aides lifting bright, multicolored umbrellas to shade them from the sun. Fahd's successor as monarch, his half brother Abdullah, arrived more quietly and stood under a black umbrella.
Fahd's body, wrapped in a white shroud and draped in his brown robe, was carried to the grave and lowered into it, and family members began covering the body with soil.
Immediately after King Fahd was pronounced dead on Monday, members of the royal family were said to have had a secret meeting to select the new king and heir. It marked the end of a decade-long transition of power that began when King Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995 and put Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz in control of the country.
Shortly after the meeting on Monday, Prince Abdullah, 81, became Saudi Arabia's sixth monarch.
After the burial on Tuesday, King Abdullah traveled to the royal court, where Saudis and foreign dignitaries had come to express their condolences. On Wednesday, the king will open the doors of his palace to the public, who will pledge allegiance to him in a kind of Saudi coronation.
Well-wishers also lined up at the palaces of provincial governors across the country to pledge loyalty to Abdullah, The Associated Press reported. Saudi and pan-Arab newspapers, too, bade farewell to the late king with poems and tributes.
Less than an hour after the dignitaries left, thousands of Saudis and others poured into the site, hoping to pay their respects or perhaps get a glimpse of the royalty who may have still been there.
Ali Mukhtar Ali, an Egyptian who has been in Saudi Arabia for much of his life, showed his torn slippers at the cemetery as a sign of how far he had walked in the name of the king. "It's not just Saudis, but all Arabs who lost something in the king," Mr. Ali said, as the crowds continued to arrive. "So it was only natural we would come to see him off."
Michael Slackman contributed reporting from Cairo for this article.