Brunei Celebrates Marriage Of Crowned Prince With Spectacular Ceremony Straight Out Of Arabian Nights
The Crown Prince of the tiny oil-rich Sultanate of Brunei has married his 17-year old bride in what is being called Asia’s wedding of the year.
The glittering traditional Malay ceremony was attended by royalty and politicians from around the world.
Two-thousand guests saw the 30-year old Crown Prince, Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, marry Sarah Salieh.
Thousands more lined the streets outside the palace, waiting for a glimpse of the couple.
The groom’s father, Sultan Hassanai Bolkiah, escorted his son to a gold throne on a dias, where he was joined by his bride.
Prince Al-Muhtadee wore a gold crown and a traditional snake-bladed Malay daggar tucked into his sash.
The “bersanding” ceremony is a remnant of Malay culture’s pre-Islamic roots, but Muslim marraige prayers were also recited in keeping with the Sultanate’s religion. After the ceremony, the couple drove in a gold open-topped Rolls royce across the capital, followed by family and guests in more than 100 limousines.
The enthusiasm of the crowd who turned out to line the streets was only slightly dampened by a tropical downpour during the parade. Such weddings are typically a rare source of excitement in Brunei, which is known for its slow pace of life and lack of nightlife.
The ceremony was attended by the prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore, the presidents of Indonesia and the Phillipines and royalty accross Asia. The Duke Of Gloucester represented Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Observers said the event was relatively low-key by Bruneian standards. the Sultan, who was once the world’s richest man, has toned down royal pomp since his brother lost $16bn of state funds through financial mismanagement.