King of Malaysia abdicates amid rumours of marriage to ex-Russian beauty queen

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Posted on: The Telegraph | January 6th, 2019
Author: James Rothwell

The King of Malaysia renounced the throne on Sunday after weeks of speculation over his ill health and rumours that he had married a former Russian beauty queen in a secretive ceremony.

The abdication of Muhammad V was announced by Malaysia’s National Palace, which mysteriously gave no hints as to why the monarch had taken the historic decision.

It marks the first time in Malaysian history that a monarch has stood down since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1957.

The palace statement said the king was grateful for the opportunity given to him by the Council of Rulers and thanked the prime minister and government.

«His Highness has worked towards fulfilling his responsibilities entrusted to him as the head of state, serving as a pillar of stability, source of justice, the core of unity … for the people,» it read.

The resignation comes barely a week after the king resumed his duties after spending two months away on medical leave.

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During that same period he is also believed to have married a former Russian beauty queen who is 24 years his junior.

According to Russian media reports, 24-year-old Oksana Voevodina tied the know with the 49-year-old king at a lavish ceremony at the  Barvikha concert hall in Moscow.

Photographs show a beaming Ms Voevodina sitting next to King Muhammad in a white wedding dress, while he is clad in national robes.

She is said to have converted to Islam in April of last year and has told friends:  «I think that the man must be the head of the family and of course shall not earn less than a woman.»

Curiously, Malaysian palace officials have declined to confirm the marriage and have not acknowledged the photographs, which were widely circulated on social media and several Malaysian news websites.

Malaysia has nine royal households, who typically take turns to sit on the throne. The selection of the next king can be decided by a vote in the Council of Rulers, made up of all nine royal households.

The monarch’s role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament.

But the monarch is highly regarded, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition.

Sultan Muhammad V, ruler of northeast Kelantan state, took his oath of office in December 2016, becoming one of Malaysia’s youngest constitutional monarchs.

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