Malaysia’s royal families on Thursday picked a sports-loving sultan as the country’s new king after the last monarch abdicated in a historic first following his reported marriage to a Russian ex-beauty queen.
The previous king, Sultan Muhammad V, stepped aside this month following just two years on the throne after reports surfaced he had married the former Miss Moscow while on medical leave.
There was great shock across Malaysia at the first abdication of a monarch in the Muslim-majority country’s history.
Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, a keen athlete who holds a string of positions on sporting bodies, including at world football governing body FIFA, was elected as the new king during a special meeting of Malaysia’s Islamic royalty.
Sultan Abdullah “has been chosen as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king) for a period of five years starting from January 31, 2019,” said a statement from the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Syed Danial Syed Ahmad.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique arrangement where the national throne changes hands every five years between rulers of the country’s nine states headed by Islamic royalty.
Eight of the state sultans earlier met at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur for the so-called “Conference of Rulers” to select the new king.