Brunei sultan's daughter weds in elaborate ceremony
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AFP) - Glittering jewels and the echoes of a 17-gun salute marked the climax of wedding celebrations for the daughter of one of the world's wealthiest men, the Sultan of Brunei.
Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, 32, and Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini, 29, were presented to the royal court in a lavish traditional ceremony at the sultan's 1,700-room palace on Sunday. Although the couple were legally wed on Thursday after signing the marriage contract, Sunday's event marks the height of more than a week of festivities in the tiny oil-rich Muslim sultanate on Borneo island.
The bride, dressed in a crystal-beaded beige and silver gown, was ushered into the throne room by sixteen royal guards carrying ceremonial spears and shields. She was seated at the head of the hall in front of 3,000 guests, including Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Philippines President Benigno Aquino and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Visibly nervous, the groom, wearing beige and gold brocade to complement his wife's ensemble, was escorted to the bridal dias where the sultan took Ruzaini's hand and placed it on the bride's forehead - a symbolic blessing and gesture of affection in Malay culture. The monarch also bestowed the groom with the royal title "Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak", which roughly translates as "Son of His Highness" and is reserved only for the upper tiers of Brunei's aristocracy.