Ex-Malaysian King divorces former Russian beauty queen

The abrupt end to the whirlwind romance of Sultan Muhammad V and Ms Oksana Voevodina came last month after the Sultan uttered the word "talak" three times. The couple's son was born barely two months earlier. PHOTO: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM
The abrupt end to the whirlwind romance of Sultan Muhammad V and Ms Oksana Voevodina came last month after the Sultan uttered the word "talak" three times. The couple's son was born barely two months earlier. PHOTO: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM

KUALA LUMPUR • The former Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, has divorced former Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina, according to local media reports - an apparent abrupt end to the whirlwind romance that enraptured and befuddled Malaysia in equal parts.

The divorce was registered on July 1, the New Straits Times reported yesterday, adding that its sources said a copy of the couple's divorce certificate making the rounds on social media was genuine.

The certificate, which bears the Kelantan state crest and is marked as the copy belonging to the wife, indicates that the divorce was done through the utterance of the word "talak" three times - the most severe and irreversible form of divorce in Islam.

The date of the divorce was listed as June 22, and it was marked as taking place in Singapore.

Under Islamic law, a man who divorces his wife with talak tiga has no chance of reconciliation unless she marries and divorces another man first, or if the woman's new husband dies.

When asked, Kelantan's Deputy Menteri Besar denied any know-ledge of the split, the NST reported.

"(Just) like when members of the press asked us (the state government) on the Sultan's marriage, we cannot comment (on the divorce news) because we have no official information about that," Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah told reporters yesterday.

"We only know about the divorce through social media, including from the news published on the front page of a news-paper today."

The divorce comes barely two months after the couple's son was born.

 
 
 
 

Though the palace has not made any official comment on the divorce, it issued a statement on Tuesday laying out the correct use of royal titles.

"Please be informed that no one can be called Kelantan Queen, Kelantan King, Sultanah Kelantan or Queen of Kelantan without any official announcement from Istana Kelantan," the palace said in a statement. It did not mention Ms Voevodina.

Russian-born Ms Voevodina started an Instagram account last month. The verified account has some 360,000 followers, and several posts include pictures of her with Sultan Muhammad V, along with long captions about her life and how the couple met.

Taking the name Rihana Oksana Petra, the 27-year-old also shares about motherhood and married life with the once-divorced Sultan Muhammad V.

However, she has not been officially recognised by the state as the new sultanah.

The latest post on July 10 said she got married in June last year, and in May this year gave birth to her son Ismail Leon, "Inshallah (God willing) His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Kelantan and, Inshallah, the future King of Malaysia".

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

He had ascended the throne in December 2016 and was meant to serve for five years under a rota-ting monarchy system shared between the country's nine royal households.

While he did not state his reasons for abdicating, royal observers have said that speculation last November about his marriage to Ms Voevodina, while on medical leave, was a factor.

Ms Voevodina's past had raised eyebrows in conservative Muslim-majority Malaysia after photos of her scantily clad and modelling lingerie surfaced online.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-Malaysian King divorces former Russian beauty queen'. Print Edition | Subscribe