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Cablegate: Royal Wedding Announced

R 190024Z MAY 04
FM AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2206
INFO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY KABUL

UNCLAS BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 000270


DEPT FOR EAP/PMBS
ALSO FOR S/CPR AMB. ENSENAT

SINGAPORE ALSO FOR COL BORDWELL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV
SUBJECT: ROYAL WEDDING ANNOUNCED

REF: BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 255

1. SUMMARY: THE BRUNEI INFORMATION DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCED
MAY 15 THAT THE CROWN PRINCE, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE
HAJI AL-MUHTADEE BILLAH, 30, IS TO MARRY ON SEPTEMBER 8.
HIS BRIDE-TO-BE IS AN UNKNOWN SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD
STUDENT, DAYANGKU SARAH BTE PENGIRAN HAJI SALLEH ABDUL
RAHAMAN. END SUMMARY.

2. THE LONG-EXPECTED ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE ON NATIONAL
TELEVISION ON SATURDAY, MAY 15, AND COPIES OF THE BORNEO
BULLETIN ON THE FOLLOWING DAY, WHICH CARRIED AN OFFICIAL
PORTRAIT OF SARAH, WERE SOLD OUT WITHIN HOURS. MESSAGES
CONGRATULATING THE COUPLE AND THE PRINCE'S WISE CHOICE
OF A BRIDE HAVE BEEN POURING IN TO BRUNEI'S INTERNET
BOARDS. THERE HAS BEEN WIDESPREAD PRAISE ALSO THAT THE
PRINCE HAS CHOSEN AGAINST MARRYING HIS EARLIER RUMORED
CHOICE OF PARTNER WHO ALLEGEDLY HAD TOO COLORFUL A PAST
TO WITHSTAND PUBLIC SCRUTINY.

3. DAYANGKU SARAH IS A STUDENT AT THE PADUKA SERI
BEGAWAN SULTAN SCIENCE COLLEGE AND IS STUDYING FOR HER
UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS. SHE IS THE YOUNGEST
OF THREE CHILDREN. HER FATHER IS A MINOR RANKING
"PENGIRAN," WHICH MEANS HE HAS SOME ROYAL BLOOD, BUT THE
CONNECTION IS DISTANT. SARAH'S MOTHER IS A SWISS
NATIONAL. (NOT SWEDISH AS ORIGINALLY REPORTED IN
REFTEL.)

4. THE EMERGENCE OF DAYANGKU SARAH IS A RECENT
DEVELOPMENT. AS PART OF PREPARATIONS FOR THE CROWN
PRINCE'S ANTICIPATED WEDDING, HE HAS IN THE PAST SEVERAL
MONTHS INCREASED HIS APPEARANCES AT PUBLIC EVENTS AND
MADE REGULAR VISITS TO PROMINENT PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS.
AMONG THE SCHOOLS HE VISITED WAS THE PADUKA SERI BEGAWAN
SULTAN SCIENCE COLLEGE, WHERE HE MET SARAH FOR THE FIRST
TIME. UPON REPORTING HIS INTEREST, THE PALACE SWUNG
INTO ACTION AND DETERMINED THAT SARAH HAD MANY OF THE
QUALITIES THE SULTAN AND QUEEN HOPED FOR IN A BRIDE,
INCLUDING A ROYAL FAMILY CONNECTION AND NEW BLOOD FOR
THE ROYAL LINE. CROWN PRINCE BILLAH, ACCORDING TO THE
LOCAL RUMOR MILL, IS HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH SARAH
AND HAS COMPLETELY LOST INTEREST IN HIS FORMER LEADING
BRIDE CHOICE -- OR AT LEAST THAT'S THE SPIN BEING
CIRCULATED FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION.

5. COMMENT: THE EMBASSY IS WORKING WITH MFA PROTOCOL
TO DETERMINE WHETHER FOREIGN REPS WILL BE INVITED AND
WILL REPORT WHEN CONFIRMATION IS AVAILABLE. AMBASSADOR
HAS BEEN TOLD INFORMALLY THAT UP TO 100 HEADS OF
STATE/ROYALS WILL BE INVITED TO THE CEREMONY. THE
OFFICIAL WEDDING PERIOD IS SLATED TO RUN FROM AUGUST 26
TO SEPTEMBER 8. KEY EVENTS WILL TAKE PLACE ON AND
IMMEDIATELY BEFORE SEPTEMBER 8.

6. KABUL MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.

CHRISTY

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