Royal birthday begins with colourful parade
Siti Hajar

THE 68th royal birthday ceremony for His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam commenced with the traditional gathering of uniformed personnel to mark the occasion.

In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of men and women, both veteran and young, donning the attire of various defence and voluntary units assembled in the heart of the capital as they awaited the arrival of the monarch and other members of the royal family.

Not long before the Central Clock in Bandar Seri Begawan showed eight, the first of several royal convoys arrived at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ĎAli Saifuddien to be greeted by schoolchildren lining the streets and waving the Brunei flag leading towards the location where members of the public, tourists and curious onlookers stood under the morning sky to watch a tradition very much familiar to the people of Brunei.

Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Ministerís Office; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah as well as His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah and joined by invited guests including VIPs and foreign dignitaries for an event that has marked the start of a series of royal visits to all four districts to be witnessed in the coming weeks.

Shortly after the arrival of His Majesty, who was greeted by YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Commissioner of the Royal Brunei Police Force, the capital resonated with the firing of cannons, indicating the commencement of a practice that has enamoured visitors and those who come every year to celebrate the day with the monarch and other members of the royal family.

The ceremony, which saw the inspection of the royal guard of honour followed with a march past to the tune of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces band lasted for an approximate hour and was able to provide a slight glimpse into the ways in which the Brunei people pay homage to their ruler.

Those who arrived in the capital watched many dressed in crisp uniforms awaiting His Majestyís arrival.

Prior to His Majestyís departure from the capital to the Istana Nurul Iman for the Investiture ceremony, the national anthem was played through the stillness of the crowd, only to be stirred by the flying past of Royal Brunei Air Force helicopters to mark the conclusion of the official start to the royal birthday celebration. - Borneo Bulletin (15 August 2014)