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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 13:43 GMT
Thousands mourn Malaysia's king
Politicians line up near the coffin of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah
Politicians and ordinary citizens attended the ceremony
Malaysia is observing funeral and mourning ceremonies for the king, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, who died on Wednesday at the age of 75.

His body was driven from the palace in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, to the city's principal mosque for a brief prayer ceremony attended by royal dignitaries, politicians and ordinary people.

A Malaysian flag is lowered in honour of the dead king
Flags are being flown at half mast
Afterwards, the casket, draped in royal yellow, was returned to the palace, where it was placed on a raised dais and surrounded by an honour guard.

Thousands of members of the public filed past the coffin for almost two hours to pay their respects.

Sultan Salahuddin's body was later driven to his home state of Selangor where he was buried in the royal mausoleum.

The sultan was Malaysia's 11th constitutional monarch since Malaysia gained its independence from Britain in 1957. Malaysia has a unique system of revolving monarchy, whereby the nine state sultans take five-year turns as king.

On Thursday Sultan Salahuddin's son was declared as the new sultan of Selangor state. The new king will be elected by the heads of the nine royal families within four weeks.

Until then, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of the east coast state of Terengganu will be the acting monarch.

Prayers recited

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attended mourning ceremonies in which black-clad Muslim clerics recited prayers over the dead king's coffin.

Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah
Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah married the king in 1990
He was joined by Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Singapore's President S R Nathan.

Also watching was a tearful Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah, who married the King in 1990 when she was 19. The Queen, in white, was comforted by family members.

Bars closed

Mahathir Mohamad declared Thursday a public holiday to begin a week of mourning for the king.

Flags were flown at half mast, television and radio stations played only prayers and solemn music and all entertainment centres in Selangor, such as pubs and discos, were ordered closed.

Sultan Salahuddin was said to be particularly close to his subjects, and was nicknamed "the ruler with the heart of the people".

The Malaysian monarchy has mainly symbolic powers.

The king in Malaysia is head of state, as well as the nominal head of the military and all three branches of government, signing bills and appointing ministers, judges and ambassadors.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kean Wong
"The death of Malaysia's King has been a rare unifying moment"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Sultan Salahuddin
Your memories of the king
See also:

22 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Malaysia mourns
21 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
King of Malaysia dies
21 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Ruler with 'heart of the people'
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malaysia
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