An Instapeek into royal life in Malaysia

Russian consort goes online with details of love life with Kelantan sultan, amasses 300,000 followers in one month

Sultan Muhammad V and his wife Oksana Voevodina, who now also goes by Rihana Oksana Petra. PHOTOS: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM
The couple at the “birthday of our family”, seemingly referring to their Muslim wedding ceremony. PHOTOS: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM
Ms Voevodina with her son, born in May, who could be next in line to his father’s throne. PHOTOS: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM
Ms Voevodina with her son’s pram in a candid post about her fears as a new mother. PHOTOS: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM

Former Miss Moscow Oksana Voevodina has gone public on Instagram about her life as the Sultan of Kelantan's royal consort, confirming speculation last year that the then King of Malaysia had taken a Russian wife.

Taking the name Rihana Oksana Petra, the 25-year-old has amassed nearly 300,000 followers since she began posting last month.

Her posts, in which she shares pictures and talks about motherhood and married life with Sultan Muhammad V, has earned her widespread support from netizens - though the royal house has yet to officially recognise her as the new Sultanah.

Sultan Muhammad V, 49, has made few public appearances since stepping down as king on Jan 6, becoming the first monarch in Malaysia's history to abdicate.

He had ascended the throne in December 2016 and was meant to serve for five years under a rotating monarchy system shared by the nine royal households. Pahang's Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin replaced him as Malaysia's King on Jan 31.

While he did not state his reasons for abdicating, royal observers have said that speculation in November last year about his marriage to Ms Voevodina was one factor.

Her past raised eyebrows in conservative Muslim-majority Malaysia after photos surfaced online of her scantily clad and modelling lingerie.

But on her Instagram page, she is modestly dressed and a picture of wedded bliss.

"For many people, the story of our first meeting with my husband remains to be a mystery," she wrote in a post with more than 51,000 likes.

Describing their first encounter in Europe in spring 2017, the former beauty queen wrote: "He introduced himself as king of Malaysia. I took it as a joke and joked back that I was also the queen of Moscow."

She also posted a photo of herself and Sultan Muhammad V in cream-coloured outfits at the "birthday of our family", seemingly referring to their Muslim wedding ceremony in June last year.

Their son, Tengku Ismail Leon Petra Tengku Muhammad V Faris Petra, was born in May this year, she said on Instagram.

Although no official marriage announcement has been made to date, the birth of a son is significant, as the prince could possibly be next in line to Kelantan's throne. It is Sultan Muhammad V's second marriage and he has no other children.

Ms Voevodina has been candid on social media, voicing her concerns and fears as a mother, and revealing that her baby was underweight and had jaundice.

She also heaped praise on Sultan Muhammad V for taking care of her during a difficult pregnancy. "The man who really loves his woman will do everything for his beloved one," she posted, adding: "During pregnancy, he would give his wife increased attention, gifts and care."

Embed Instagram

In another post yesterday, she described how Sultan Muhammad V confessed on her visit to Malaysia that he had fallen in love with her at first sight. She said they spoke on the phone every day since they first met, despite being continents apart.

Ms Voevodina said she chose the budding relationship over a modelling contract in New York.

"He told me that he loved our conversations and would like me to become his wife," she posted.

Malaysians commenting on her posts are already referring to her as "Your Highness" and "My Queen".

But Ms Voevodina's past may be an obstacle in Kelantan, where the decades-old government of Parti Islam SeMalaysia imposes rules such as separate check-out lines for men and women at supermarkets.

Some disgruntled netizens have asked why Ms Voevodina is not wearing a headscarf in all of her Instagram photos. Others have said she looks more beautiful with one.

It remains to be seen if she will be officially accepted as Sultanah of Kelantan. For now, she has promised to reveal more details of her royal romance in future posts.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline An Instapeek into royal life in Malaysia. Subscribe