Down-to-earth royals win hearts

The King posing for a photo with women folk from the Kadazandusun community.

SABAH did not waste the chance to show its adoration for the King and Queen during the visit of Malaysia’s Royal family to the Land Below the Wind earlier this month.

Suffice to say that, if there were any lingering doubt, Sabahans, who are not used to royalty, have nonetheless showed that they love and cherish the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong just as much as other Malaysians do.

Videos of the visit by Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah have gone viral all over social media.

The King and Queen trying the slingshot, a traditional Kadazandusun sport.The King and Queen trying the slingshot, a traditional Kadazandusun sport.

The clips showed large crowds of people lining the streets, sometimes under the scorching sun or heavy rain, eager to greet the royal family, who drove through the state in the first leg of the “Kembali Kenali Borneo” tour starting on Sept 3.

Some even ran along the royal convoy trying to catch up to the vehicle, hoping to catch a selfie, or wefie, with Their Majesties as well as their prince and princesses.

The King and Queen showed they cared for the people and in turn won the hearts of Sabahans when, much to the people’s pleasant surprise, they were willing to break protocol in order to mingle with commoners.

Without fail, the royal family took the time to accommodate the people’s requests.

As if that’s not enough, the people were further endeared by the patience and humility of the King and Queen, who listened to their grouses on issues mainly over water and electricity supply as well as the road conditions in Sabah.

The Queen, in one of the videos, even literally jotted down the problems in a notebook.

The King taking a wefie with Sabahans.The King taking a wefie with Sabahans.

There were a string of light moments when the people, in their excitement to see the King and Queen up close and personal, were caught on video using incorrect salutations to greet the royal couple.

But during a state government dinner here, Sultan Abdullah was quick to point out that he was “touched” rather than upset despite some welcoming him as “Pakcik Agong”, “Abang Agong” and even “Gong, Gong, Gong” or the Queen as “Datin Permaisuri”.

“I cannot forget all this and the people of Sabah will remain in my heart forever,” said the King, adding these were cherished experiences during the Sabah visit.

“Although they should have the proper etiquette, I’m sure they don’t mean any disrespect to our rulers,” said Sabah Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) senior lecturer Tony Paridi Bagang.

“This is Their Majesties’ first visit to Sabah as the royal family so it is understandable people here would be thrilled to welcome them and show their adoration.

“Like many Malaysians, Sabahans also love our monarchy dearly but the reality is people in Sabah are not accustomed to royalty so, that is probably why some don’t know how to behave.

“This is an eye opener not only for Sabahans, but to all Malaysians to understand the royal institution and its etiquettes or protocols,” he added.

Despite this, Bagang said the King and Queen showed that they were “berjiwa rakyat”, emphasising Their Majesties’ down-to-earth demeanour.

“They are willing (to be with the people) to experience Sabahans’ warmth, hospitality and loyalty,” he said.

Their Majesties started their tour in the Sabah east coast districts of Tawau, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, and Telupid before continuing to Ranau, which is home to the majestic Mount Kinabalu.

They then completed their 759km drive across Sabah in the state capital Kota Kinabalu where the King, among others, opened the Sabah Syariah Court Complex before visiting the Kadazandusun heartland of Penampang.

The royal family ended their Sabah tour in the southwestern Sipitang district on Sept 7 before going on the second leg of the Kembali Kenali Borneo tour in Sarawak.

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