Princess stepping up to the plate

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s a stark reminder that Covid-19 knows no boundaries when a Malaysian princess shared how she and the royal family dealt with their anxieties over the pandemic.

Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah, who is the King’s eldest daughter, said there was much fear when the movement control order was in full swing in March.

“Every day, I thought I had Covid-19. I was constantly on edge.

“It is a typical anxiety symptom, you are sweaty, you are overthinking and you can’t sleep.

“I also lost weight because I was in a state of anxiousness, ” said Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan, 28.

She admitted that she had taken the coronavirus lightly in the beginning.

“I thought it would pass quickly.

“But over time, it became worse and worse, ” she told The Star.

In fact, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah went through self-quarantine in late March after seven Istana Negara staff were infected.

The royal family had a scare then, said Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan.

“We were all very anxious and for a while we could not see each other. When we finally did see each other, we still had to practise social distancing, ” she said.

Even today, she said the royal family still sit apart from one another.

“My father would sit at the head of the table and we are all at least 1m away until today, ” she said, adding that the royal family was following strict safety health procedures.

The quarantine episode sent a grim reminder to the palace.

“We realised Covid-19 has no boundaries. It can happen to anyone, and it is God’s test for all of us, ” she said.However, like most people, she saw a silver lining amid all the uncertainties.

“I am sure that there is a reason for this pandemic. I feel like it is forcing us to reset, to reevaluate and rethink.

“As much as it wasn’t the best of situations, I am thankful that I got to learn more about what I have, my anxiety and maybe with what I have, I could also help others, ” said Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan, who is the international patron for World Mental Health Day.

“I read a lot, including mental issues books. I learnt a lot about anxiety and depression for personal research to keep myself informed, ” she said.

And the realities of Covid-19 has also taught her not to stigmatise those who had been infected.

“I feel it is terrible that a lot of the time they are ridiculed, bullied; nobody wants to contract the virus, ” said the soft-spoken princess.

Asked about the advantages or disadvantages of having a royal title to her name, she said that she was fortunate and blessed to be in such a position.

“I think those who are in such positions should help as many as possible.

“They should do as much as they can to help if they have the platform to do so, ” she said.

Her hope for Malaysians is that people remain empathetic, being kind and supportive of one another.

“It all starts with being kind and trying to understand what everyone is going through.

“Everyone is fighting a battle that you don’t know or are unaware of.

“They could look really happy, but they may be going through something personal.

“The more united we are in this battle, not only against Covid-19, but also mental health, the more we can push our agenda forward towards recovery, ” she said.

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