PETALING JAYA • The consort of the Sultan of Selangor, a former TV newscaster, drove herself to their secret wedding at a royal mosque in Shah Alam, the capital of the Malaysian state, said a book that recounts her first year as a royal.
Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin, as she is known now, later drove to national broadcaster RTM to read the 8pm news on that eventful day on Aug 31, 2016, said the newly published book written by her sister, Datin Norely Abdul Rahman.
No one in the newsroom had an inkling of what had taken place that morning and, when the programme ended, she received a text from her sister with the teasing message: "Your diamond ring is blinding my vision. Cover up your finger please!"
Her marriage to Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah was kept hidden for three days until they were about to fly out for their honeymoon in Mauritius.
The book, My First Year Journey - From TV News Anchor To Permaisuri Selangor: An Anecdotal Experience, offers surprisingly interesting insights into the life of the new royal member.
Malaysia has nine Malay royal houses reigning as titular heads in nine of the 13 Malaysian states.
The other four states - Penang, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak - former British protectorates, are headed by governors.
The TV journalist, then known as Ms Norashikin Abdul Rahman, was 45 and had been a stewardess with Malaysia Airlines. The marriage was her second and she has two children from a previous marriage to a pilot.
For the Selangor ruler, who was then 70, the marriage was his third. He has three children from two previous marriages.
A week before her marriage solemnisation, Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin had submitted a leave application to her news editor, requesting a two-week break from Sept 1 "to settle some personal matters".
What she meant was time off for her honeymoon, moving into the royal palace and running the errands of any newly-wed.
The editor's reply was a curt "I will think about it". But fortunately, she was not rostered for work in the first two weeks of September.
Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin left RTM after the marriage and began a new life and journey.
"I contemplated continuing to work while being the Permaisuri of Selangor. I know it might be hard to believe, but the Tuanku (Sultan) had said he would ask the Selangor Council of the Royal Court to hear their feedback," she says in the book.
"Unfortunately, the Royal Council was not in favour of my request. As hard as it was, I just had to respect their decision and accept it."
The Tengku Permaisuri, who keeps 25 cats at home, is a strong advocate of the well-being of animals, especially cats and dogs.
"Stray animals are a very common sight in Malaysia. My heart goes out to all of them, cats and dogs alike.
"They never asked to be born. As a developing nation, Malaysia is still far behind in championing animal rights, although all religions emphasise the importance of caring for all beings."
In the book, she describes her wide-eyed experiences at her first official function as the Sultan's consort, her first solo official visit and a visit to a shelter for flood victims.
The best wrap-up in the 183-page book is her revelation that while she can no longer move around as freely as she used to, having become a public figure, there is at least one person who still has no idea who she is.
"I am very relieved that the hairdresser who did my hair on my wedding day still does not know who I am, even to this day. I still go to her sometimes to get my hair done, but with no entourage.
"She still greets me with the usual 'Hello! How are you? Busy ah? Long time no see!' "
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK