SEA Games: Royal athletes at the 2017 edition

Prince Abdul Mateen, who is sixth in line to the Brunei throne, is representing his country in the equestrian polo events at the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games (KL2017).
Prince Abdul Mateen, who is sixth in line to the Brunei throne, is representing his country in the equestrian polo events at the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games (KL2017).PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/TMSKI

SINGAPORE - It is often said that kings rarely fight their own battles, but for these royals, that could not be further from the truth. Ever since the inaugural South-east Asian Peninsular Games in 1959, the biennial event has long been grounds for such royals to test themselves in the sporting arena.

In 1967 for example, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand clinched gold in the OK dinghy class in sailing.

The Straits Times takes a look at the princes and princess involved in this year's Games in Kuala Lumpur (KL):


Bruneian royalty has had a long history of competing in the biennial sporting event. In 2009 for example, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah competed in both singles and doubles nine-ball pool events. This year is no different, with the Bruneians having the largest royal contingent in KL.

The Bruneian royal family is well represented in the polo team, with Princess Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah and her brother Prince Abdul Mateen Bolkiah both in the team list. The 26-year-old prince, who has featured in several fashion publications such as GQ Thailand, even held an impromptu meet-and-greet after a practice match against Singapore on Sunday (Aug 20), much to the delight of cheering spectators.

Other Bruneian royalty in the polo team include Pengiran Muda Bahar Bolkiah, 36, Pengiran Muda Abdul Qawi.

The Sultan of Brunei's nephew, Hassanal Bolkiah, is the captain of Brunei's national football team in KL. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Aside from polo, the Bruneian football team will also have a dash of royal blood. Faiq Bolkiah, nephew of Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, is the team captain. The 19-year-old made his Games debut in the 2015 Games in Singapore where he netted a penalty as the Bruneians finished bottom of their six-team group.

Faiq is considered to be a footballing prospect, having featured for the youth sides of English Premier League giants Arsenal and Chelsea, and now plies his trade in the reserve team of surprise 2016 champions Leicester City.


Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin has won two equestrian gold medals in KL. PHOTO: AFP

Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin made history on Sunday (Aug 20), becoming the first-ever sultan to compete in the SEA Games. On top of that, he also bagged two gold medals in the individual and team events of the 80km equestrian endurance race aboard his mount Rtes Annaversary.


Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana will be taking part in the equestrian dressage competition in KL. PHOTO: REUTERS

Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand - the only daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn - is no stranger to the SEA Games. She donned her national colours in both the 2005 and 2007 Games in the badminton competitions.

This year however, Sirivannavari will be competing in the equestrian dressage event, having made her debut in the sport back in the 2013 Games in Myanmar.