THE MAJESTIC CORONATION OF HIS MAJESTY SULTAN HAJI HASSANAL BOLKIAH MU’IZZADDIN WADDAULAH, SULTAN AND YANG DI-PERTUAN OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

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Published on July 10, 2018 with No Comments

A historical event steeped in ancient traditions and royal pageantry of the Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Words JACQUELINE WONG
Images BRUNEI ARCHIVES

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His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, was installed as the 29th Ruler of Brunei Darussalam in a short ceremony at Istana Darul Hana, witnessed by state dignitaries as well as members of the Legislative Council on 5 October, 1967.

 

A young military officer and Crown Prince, Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah, at the age of 21 was installed and titled as His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a brief ceremony on 5 October, 1957.

Despite His Majesty’s hectic royal engagements soon after, plans were immediately underway for the Coronation. It was announced that the ceremony would take place on 6 Jamadilawal, 1388 in the Muslim calendar corresponding to 1 August, 1968. The news brought much joy to the nation, creating an occasion for all to unite and celebrate. It also did not escape the rakyat that the new monarch took on the namesake ‘Bolkiah’, after Brunei Darussalam’s fifth sultan, Sultan Bolkiah (1485-1524), who ruled over a period which was considered to be Brunei Darussalam’s Golden Age. This happy coincidence brought much hope and confidence to the nation that their young ruler would steer them towards greatness and prosperity.

Almost 10 months after His Majesty’s installation, the Coronation ceremony witnessed combined ancient customs and traditions of Brunei’s 600-year-old Malay monarchy. Even by today’s royal standards, the splendour, pomp and pageantry of His Majesty’s Coronation in 1968 remained one of the most magnificent royal ceremonies ever to be witnessed in the region.

Beginning with the announcement of the Coronation ceremony keeping with ancient traditions, a Yellow Flag was hoisted at the location of Bukit Panggal while a Red Flag was raised in Sungai Kebun across the Brunei River. The bold coloured flags were to announce to the rakyat and Brunei residents (yellow) and foreigners (red) that a royal ceremony was about to take place.

Forty days before the Coronation ceremony of the new Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the sounding of the Gendang Jaga-Jaga (royal orchestra) was initiated, while royal decorations were set in place at the Lapau, at Istana Darul Hana and along the royal procession route in Brunei Town (today known as Bandar Seri Begawan). These included the tunggol kawan, payong ubor-ubor, ambal and dadap in a variety of colours to symbolise the hierarchy of Brunei’s aristocrats. The Balai Pemajangan (Ceremonial Hall) at Istana Nurul Hana was also decked with traditional decorations such as sumbu layang, payung haram, payung tiga ringkat, sapu-sapu ayeng, panji-panji and ula-ula besar.

On the day of the Coronation, the public gathered along the main road of Brunei Town from as early as 6am for the best vantage point to view the royal procession. Meanwhile, His Majesty underwent the Istiadat Bersiram (ceremonial bath) at Istana Darul Hana, while state dignitaries and foreign guests began filing in and taking their seats at the throne room of the Lapau. A 21-gun salute was then sounded to mark the end of the ceremonial bath.

From Istana Darul Hana, His Majesty was driven to the Edinburgh Bridge where he was joined by his late father, titled as the Begawan Sultan, and the State’s highest royal officials – the Pengiran Bendahara, Pengiran Di-Gadong, Pengiran Pemancha, and Pengiran Temenggong. Adhering to ancient traditions, only the men proceeded to the Lapau while the women, including Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, remained at the Pasiban Agong Singgahsana (royal throne) of Istana Darul Hana.

At the Edinburgh Bridge, His Majesty took his seat on the Usongan Diraja, an ornately carved golden royal chariot, accompanied by the State’s highest royal court officials carrying the Royal Regalia and designated courtiers carrying the rest of the regalia. The Mahkota (coronation crown) was borne by Pengiran Paduka Tuan Sahibul Karib, the Keris Si Naga (royal keris) was borne by Pengiran Maharaja Adinda Sahibul Fikri, the Perhiasan Tunggal (Sultan’s regalia) was borne by Pehin Jawatan Dalam, the Kuching Emas (golden cat) was borne by Pehin Orang Kaya Penggawa Laila Bentara Diraja and the Kimhap or Tongkat Ajai (golden chin rest in the shape of an up-stretched arm) was borne by Setiausaha Sulit Laila Rahsia Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia. The royal procession then made its way through Brunei Town to the Lapau.

His Majesty was resplendent on the royal chariot, dressed in a custom-made royal attire of kain tenunan (woven cloth) in red brocade with the Arab Gegati Berpakan design. Completing the royal attire was an amban (sash) of the same design in fuchsia, a regal tara (aigrette) on his dastar (headgear), a gem-studded kuas (shoulder ornament), and a keris on his left side. The ceremonial procession was accompanied by members of the royal court bearing the full royal regalia of Brunei Darussalam, respectively.

Upon arriving at the Lapau, His Majesty stepped down from the royal chariot and accepted the salute from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces before proceeding to the Council Chamber. His Majesty took his seat on the gold-covered Patarana (throne chamber). Among the guests on the day were representatives of the Sultans of Kelantan, Johor, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan from Malaysia as well as the British Resident to Brunei, His Excellency A. R. Adair, representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

The Coronation ceremony began with the Pengiran Penggawa Laila Betara Adat Istiadat Diraja requesting the consent of the late Al-Marhum Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien to crown and place the Keris Si Naga on His Majesty. This was a symbolic gesture of the official handing over and appointment of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah as the 29th Ruler and Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. As soon as His Majesty was crowned, the late Al-Marhum Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan slowly drew his keris from its scabbard and pointed it to the audience as a signal for everyone present to pay homage to the new Sultan.

At the same time the Wazir, Cheteria and Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Di-Gadong also drew their keris, after which the Seri Paduka Pengiran Bendahara cried out “Puja” (Salute) seven times, each accompanied by a titir (beating) of the Nobat Diraja (royal orchestra) and a gun salute. This was followed by the cry from Pehin Orang Kaya Di-Gadong to “Sembah Setia” (oath of loyalty), which he made seven times; with each call enthusiastically resonated outside the Lapau.

This was then followed by a proclamation by the Pengiran Bendahara:

It is by God’s Will that Your Highness is now
King in this State of Brunei;
It is by God’s Will that Your Highness now is
highest in the State of Brunei;
It is by God’s Will that Your Highness now is
leader of the people in the State of Brunei;
It is by God’s Will that Your Highness now is
protector of the people in the State of Brunei;
It is by God’s Will that Your Highness now is
the pillar supporting this State of Brunei;
It is by God’s Will that Your Highness now is
Yang Di-Pertuan of this State of Brunei;
May Your Highness forever occupy
the royal throne of Brunei, governing and leading
the people of the State of Brunei Darussalam,
Amin Ya-Rabbal Alamin.

In symbolising the oath of loyalty from the rakyat to their Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, a young royal court official unsheathed his keris and, holding the sharp point to his chest, positioned the hilt in the direction of the Sultan. While the royal orchestra played the traditional royal coronation ceremonial music, a 21-gun salute was released greeting the newly crowned Sultan.

At the conclusion of the Coronation ceremony, His Majesty stepped down from the throne chamber and walked with his attendants to the end of the Lapau. The royal entourage retraced the processional route, passing through the main street (later named Jalan Sultan to mark the historic Coronation event) before returning to Istana Darul Hana to attend the crowning of Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha.

Following traditions, the palace grounds were open to the rakyat to pay homage to their new Ruler. An estimated 50,000 people lined the streets in the morning and continued to grow until evening as the rakyat took the opportunity to share in the celebrations of this auspicious and historical Coronation event.

Long Live Your Majesty!

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