The brother of the Malaysian king who recently abdicated will tie the knot with a Swedish woman on April 19, the Kelantan state palace announced.
Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra, 45, the brother of former King Sultan Muhammad V, will marry 33-year-old Swedish national Sofie Louise Johansson.
Johansson worked in England as an au pair and met Tengku Muhammad Faiz when he was a student there, according to Swedish newspaper Expressen.
The closed-door wedding ceremony will be held “on a moderate scale”, official news agency Bernama reported on Saturday.
“His Highness seeks the prayers of the people that his marriage will go smoothly and receive the blessings of Allah until Jannah [paradise],” Kelantan Palace ceremonial chief Tengku Mohamed Faziharudean Tengku Feissal told a press conference at the palace on Saturday.
Tengku Muhammad Faiz studied history at the London School of Economics and Political Science and University College London. The abdication of his Oxford-educated brother, who was king for about three years, shocked the nation in January as it was a first since Malaysia gained independence in 1957.
Sultan Muhammad V had taken a leave of absence on medical grounds a few months before his abdication.
Foreign media reports said he had married a Russian beauty queen while he was away from the national office – though neither he nor the palace ever confirmed this.
His wedding to Oksana Voevodina, which was reported by foreign media outlets, is rumoured to be linked to his abdication, although it has not been officially confirmed or addressed.
Kelantan royalty and close friends of Tengku Muhammad Faiz will attend the wedding, the palace said.
It will begin with the marriage solemnisation, followed by the royal couple sitting on the wedding dais and a royal banquet.
“Perhaps, after the wedding, His Highness will join events with the people to introduce his wife whom he has known for a long time,” Tengku Mohamed Faziharudean said.
The crown prince ordered any wedding gifts received be donated to welfare bodies in Kelantan such as orphanages, elderly homes and non-governmental organisations like the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and Yayasan Orang Kurang Upaya.
Before the official announcement, an image of the wedding invitation went viral on social media.
Malaysia’s east coast Kelantan state palace announces crown prince Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra will be getting married on April 19 in Kota Bharu. Faiz will marry foreigner Sofie Louise Johansson – official pixs pic.twitter.com/dBLYBbGt2K
— Kuala Lumpur Reporter (@KL_Reporter) April 6, 2019
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a unique arrangement in which the national throne changes hands every five years between the sultans who head nine of the country’s 13 states.
Seven of the nine royal families are hereditary monarchies. The northern Kedah sultanate boasts an unbroken line dating back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest dynasties in the world.
All the royal families are headed by male Malay Muslims, as required by state constitutions.
Malaysia has one of the world’s largest monarchy systems, and people look to the head of state, known as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, for cultural confidence and spiritual guidance.
The weddings of Malaysian royalty usually garner lots of media interest. A recent example is Princess Tunku Tun Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, the only daughter of the sultan of Johor, who wed Dutchman Dennis Muhammad Abdullah – born Dennis Verbaas – a former model and football executive in 2017.
Reactions to Tengku Muhammad Faiz’s wedding were mixed, with some lamenting that he is marrying a foreigner while others congratulated the crown prince and praised him for being charitable.
“Glad to hear that it is not another [overextravagant] money [draining] wedding but rather a close[d] door one with wedding gifts [given] to the needy,” said Facebook user Wendy Yang.