Prince Omar Ali graduates
By Azaraimy HH

YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali, the 7th child of His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Hjh Zariah graduated with a second-class upper in Classical Studies from the Classics Department of the Royal Holloway, University of London.

The outgoing prince graduated in BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Classical Studies, after attending less than three-years of study and research under the guidance of several internationally recognised experts in the subjects. While taking courses ranging from Emperor Augustus to Poetry of Virgil, specialising in Homer, Alexander the Great and the Roman Army.

The prince joined the Classical Department at Royal Holloway in September 2005 after receiving an excellent grounding in Classical Studies at Shrewsbury School.

A graduation ceremony took place on July 17th in the College Chapel in the historic Founder's Building, one of the most spectacular university buildings in the world, which was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1886.

Attending the ceremony was His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Zariah. Also witnessing the event was YAM Pg Muda Abdul Fattaah, YAM Pg Muda Abdul Mu'min, YAM Pg Muda Abdul Muqtadir, YAM Pengiran Anak Khaliilah and YAM Pengiran Anak Naafi'ah.

At the graduation ceremony, Head of the Department of Classics, Professor Jonathan Powell presented Pengiran Muda Omar Ali to the Principal of the College Professor Stephen Hill.

He was one of 70 students graduating with Honours in Classical Studies, Ancient History, Classics and Latin this year.

Royal Holloway is widely recognised as one of the UK's leading teaching and research institutions. Its 8,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 130 countries work with internationally renowned scholars in 18 academic departments. The college's 135-acre campus provides a distinctive juxtaposition of historic buildings and modern academic and social facilities in a parkland setting in Surry, only 40 minutes from central London by train.

The Classics Department at the Royal Holloway is one of the leading departments in the subject in the UK. Its members of academic staff include internationally recognised specialists in Greek and Roman History, Latin and Greek languages and culture on the modern world.

YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali was indeed taught by several of these experts, including Dr. Christos Kremmydas, Dr. Nick Lowe, Professor Boris Rankov, and Dr. Efi Spentzou.

In his first year, Prince Omar, as he was widely called by colleagues and his professors alike, took a wide range of courses in ancient literature, history and archaeology together with a beginners' course in the Latin language.

In his second year he took courses on the Emperor Augustus, Roman Britain, the poetry of Virgil, and approaches to classical mythology. His final year specialist options on Homer, Alexander the Great and the Roman Army complemented and built on the skills he had already acquired.

Professor Powell said, the culminating point of their degree programme was the third-year dissertation, in which students engaged in independent research on a subject substantially of their own choice.

"Prince Omar", the professor said, chose to work on a subject of exceptional interest and originality, linking his historical study of Alexander the Great with the literature and traditions of the Malay-speaking area: legends about Alexander were perpetuated through Arab culture and reached South-East Asia, where they were integrated into both royal and popular traditions.

"Prince Omar's studies throughout the three years enabled him to build up the scholarly toolkit needed to analyse and elucidate a topic of this kind in a finely written essay.

He said, "With a qualification at this level he would now be ready to pursue further studies in Classics at Master's level should he decide to do so. It has been a pleasure to watch his progress during the three years and we wish him the very best of success in his future career" - Borneo Bulletin (19th July 2008)