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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Brunei's future king gets married
By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, right, is followed by Sarah Salleh - 9 sep 04
The wedding was part of a day of elaborate celebrations
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 Salleh.

Thousands more lined the streets outside the palace, waiting for a glimpse of the couple.

The groom's father, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, escorted his son to a gold throne on a dais, where he was joined by his bride.

Prince Al-Muhtadee wore a gold crown and a traditional snake-bladed Malay dagger tucked into his sash.

The "bersanding" ceremony is a remnant of Malay culture's pre-Islamic roots, but Muslim marriage 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.

The ceremony was attended by the prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore, the presidents of Indonesia and the Philippines and royalty from across 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.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Andrew Wood
"It's been called Asia's wedding of the year"



SEE ALSO:
Brunei awaits grand royal wedding
08 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Brunei
24 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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