Close to 40,000 greet royalty
Hakim Hayat & Siti Hajar

THOUSANDS of people from all walks of life thronged the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday to meet His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha and other members of the royal family as it opened its doors for the second day in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The annual tradition at the Istana Nurul Iman, a rare occasion and not seen anywhere else in the world, sees commoners meeting and personally conveying Hari Raya Aidilfitri greetings to Their Majesties and members of the royal family, a true demonstration of the monarch’s hospitality. It also shows the people’s affection for the royal family.

Their Majesties with members of the royal family received a total of 21,684 Hari Raya well-wishers at the palace during the morning session from 10am to 12pm, whilst the afternoon session that ran from 2pm to 4pm saw 18,264 people, bringing the total to 39,948 – an increase by about 5,000 from the first public open house that was held on the second day of Syawal.

Accompanying His Majesty at the Baitur Rahmah Hall were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji ‘Abdul ‘Azim, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel as well as other members of the royal family.

Meanwhile, at an adjacent room, accompanying Her Majesty were HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah and HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah. Also present were HRH Princess Hajah Masna and HRH Princess Hajah Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam.

Long queues were seen from as early as 8am with the gentlemen on one side to meet His Majesty and other members of the royal family and ladies on the other side to meet Her Majesty and other members of the royal family.

The festive atmosphere at the Istana Nurul Iman was apparent with long queues of people including tourists, expatriates, senior citizens, children and even special needs individuals all dressed for the occasion and waiting to see Their Majesties.

Greeting the guests were sounds of Hari Raya songs resonating throughout the dining hall of the Istana Nurul Iman where lines of scrumptious traditional Malay delicacies were specially prepared for the guests.

Making the occasion more special, the Istana Nurul Iman was tastefully decorated with fresh flowers, neon lights and Hari Raya ornaments.

After greeting Their Majesties, Istana staff was seen distributing guests with souvenirs in a yellow box and Hari Raya Greeting cards from Their Majesties. As with tradition, children were seen happily walking away with Hari Raya green packets.

The three-day Hari Raya open house, from 10am to 12noon and 2pm to 4pm, will conclude today. - Borneo Bulletin (12 August 2013)