Malaysia’s new king formally assumed the throne during a coronation ceremony Thursday in the southeast Asian country.
Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah took the oath of office as the country’s 16th king during a televised ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was among the dignitaries in attendance.
The 59-year-old Sultan Abdullah, the ceremonial ruler of central Pahang state, succeeds Sultan Muhammad V of northeast Kelantan state, who abruptly resigned on January 6 after barely two years on the throne. His abdication came just weeks after he went on medical leave, followed by rumors that he had married a young Russian beauty queen. Sultan Muhammad’s abdication was the first in the majority Muslim nation since gaining independence from Britain in 1957.
Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is rotated every five years between the royal leaders of the country’s nine states.
The British-educated Sultan Abdullah is an avid sports enthusiast who is a member of the world football governing body FIFA and president of the Asian Hockey Federation.