| Hakim Hayat |
THOUSANDS of invited guests descended on the Banquet Hall of Istana Nurul Iman last evening for the Royal Banquet on the occasion of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s 73rd birthday celebration.
The annual affair saw close to 4,000 guests, comprising members of the royal family, state dignitaries, Cabinet Ministers, members of the Diplomats Corps, high-ranking government officials and special guests attending the event hosted by His Majesty and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha binti Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohamed Alam.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah binti Pengiran Haji Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah binti Dato Haji Nasir; and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Norhayati binti Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman were also present.
Also in the royal entourage were Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Nor’ain; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam as well as other members of the royal family.
Meanwhile, among the special foreign guests attending the banquet were Sarawak Governor Tun Dato Seri Paduka Pehin Sri Dr Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud and spouse Puan Sri Raghad Kurdi Taib; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Singapore Heng Swee Keat and spouse Chang Hwee Nee as well as other senior officials from neighbouring nations.
Prior to the Royal Banquet, Brunei Darussalam’s national anthem was sung, followed by the recitation of Doa Selamat by State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned.
Guests, all seen regally dressed in their traditional Malay costumes and formal banquet attires were treated to a variety of sumptuous delicacies, specially prepared by the Istana’s kitchen staff.
While enjoying the food spread, guests were also entertained by a blend of soothing and celebratory music played by the band from the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
A fireworks display in the vicinity of Istana Nurul Iman towards the end of the banquet also lifted up the atmosphere of the night, marking the beginning of the two-week-long nationwide celebration of His Majesty’s 73rd birthday.
As Their Majesties and members of the royal family were leaving the Banquet Hall, hundreds of invited guests greeted His Majesty and extended their birthday wishes, while also taking pictures with the royal family as a memento for the special occasion.