BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Brunei) – As Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah on Thursday (Oct 5) morning rode in a royal chariot through the capital, crowds that had been waiting for hours under the scorching sun cheered and waved to their ruler.
Standing under giant umbrellas with paper fans, and with cameras and selfie sticks in their hands, the crowd of more than 60,000 lined the main street ni the heart of the city to catch a glimpse of their Sultan and pay homage to his contributions to development, stability and peace.
Among those lining the streets were teacher Mohamad Zaidil Hayat Abdullah, 33, his wife and two children.
“I can’t wait to see the Sultan. He has been our ruler for 50 years and I’m thrilled to be here and be a part of history. He is a fair and wise ruler and very supportive of his people,” he told The Straits Times.
Many had come as early as 3am to secure a good spot along the 3km procession route, braving pattering rain that gave way to sunshine.
Shouts of “Daulat Tuanku”, or Long Live His Majesty in Malay, erupted from the choked thoroughfares as the Sultan, accompanied by his wife, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, and six children, waved from the carriage drawn by 50 royal guards.
Dentist Emily Lim, 25, who was there to see the procession with her family, told The Straits Times that the highlight for her was to see 26-year-old Prince Mateen, who is sixth in line to the Brunei throne. He had represented his country in the equestrian polo events at the recent 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Leading the procession were marching bands from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Forces. A special customised vehicle carrying a huge two-pronged spear called the changkah followed closely behind.
Other bearers carried intricate weaponry including swords, daggers and spears.
The Sultan himself had a Malay curved dagger slipped in the belt of his royal yellow outfit. The keris named “Si Naga” or “The Dragon” had been handed down from generations of Sultans in the 654-year monarchy.
Earlier in the day, the 71-year-old had inspected a parade of more than 300 royal guards of honour, received a 21-gun salute and delivered his golden jubilee speech in the throne hall of Nurul Iman palace.
On Friday (Oct 6), the Sultan will host a royal banquet with his guests, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, other regional heads of government, rulers of several Malaysian states and royal dignitaries such as Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V of Malaysia, Prince Edward of Britain, and Prince Hashim bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Live stream of the event can be viewed here.