Monday, March 12, 2012

In the Malay royal circle, the inheritance of the throne only limited through a male heir. Women are prohibited to inherit the throne, even though a number of States has been ruled by a Queen Regnant by their own right. In this segment of Royalty Discussion, we will not cover this Queen Regnant, but just a Queen Consort. In today modern world, any woman whether born as royal Princess or Commoner, if married to a royal Prince, legally a Princess by marriage invested with the title of Her Royal Highness. And, if her husband became King, she will become his Queen. But, during the age of the Malay Kingdoms in the past, that is not the case.

According to custom, a Malay Royal Princes did not suffer the consequences like that of German Princes when marrying a commoner by losing their royal status and rights to the throne. He still can succeeding the throne and become King. Nevertheless, his commoner wife is unable to become Queen. In Malay Royal title, Queen Consort is styled as Her Royal Highness the Tengku Ampuan or Raja Perempuan (according to respective State), a title reserved only to a royal-born consort of the King. And it stop not only there, the son of a royal-born mother have a precedence to succeed the throne over their brothers by commoner-born mother. A child to royal-born mother is known as Anak Gahara (Full-Blood Prince), while a child of commoner-born mother is known as Anak Gundek (Half-Blood Prince). The case of the State of Pahang Darul Makmur served as the best example where, during the time of Sultan Abdullah Al-Mu'tasim Billah (1917 - 1932), no consort of his were invested the title of Queen. He has three wives and all of them are commoner-born.


Over time, the male Royalty have lesser and lesser number of wives. And, in the modern world, many of this royal princes married to a commoner. By rights, any consort of the King should be crowned by his side as Queen. Nevertheless, they still agreed that the title of Tengku Ampuan should be reserved to a royal-born consort. An alternatives were set up to allow a commoner to become Queen. She will be invested with a new title of Her Royal Highness the Tengku Permaisuri. The State of Selangor gives us a recent example during the reign of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. When he is crowned King in 1961, his consort the Tengku Rahimah were crowned as Tengku Ampuan Rahimah by his side. The Tengku Rahimah is the Princess of Langkat, daughter of Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmat Shah of Langkat.

When she died in 1993, the position of Queen were left vacant even though Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah has another wife at that time, Lady Siti Aishah. A commoner whom he married in 1990. It is only in 1998 when the coronation ceremony were held to crown Lady Siti Aishah as Tengku Permaisuri Siti Aishah.

Nevertheless, there are States that acknowledge any consort of the King, regardless of her background as royalty or commoner to become Queen. An easy example are the States of Kedah and Johor, where a title of Sultanah is used to the consort of the King. In Johor for instance, a multi-racial consorts from all over the world has been crowned as Sultanah. Among those who are commoner were Sultanah Fatimah (Cantonese), Sultanah Khadijah (Turks), Sultanah Rogaiyah (Indian), Sultanah Helen (British) and Lady Marcella (Romanian). Nevertheless, since 1959, all Johorean consorts of the King are royal-born princesses.

The title of Sultanah also been used as an alternatives to Tengku Permaisuri title. For example, the Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu were crowned as Permaisuri Nur Zahirah during the coronation ceremony in 1998. Nevertheless, the title were change as the Sultan's wish in 2006.

There is a question arise of whom shall have the title of Queen if the reigning King is polygamous. In this case, according to States, the most senior royal-born consort have the precedence over the commoner-born consort. While the other consort will be styled as 'Che Puan', also can translated as 'Lady'. It is an exception to the States of Perak however, where ALL consorts of the King shall be known as Queen. If he has four wives at that time, then he will have all 4 becoming his Queens, with the royal known as Raja Perempuan and the commoner known as Tengku Permaisuri. Nevertheless, it is an exception with the current Queen of Perak, Her Majesty Bainun however, where she was invested the title as Raja Permaisuri of Perak, where supposedly the title 'Raja' can only be invested to the royal-born consort.

That's all for today's discussion topic regarding the variant of title to the Queen Consort. There are many issue to be discussed, but we will cover it in the next session. Until next time.



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