Malaysia's 13th King Crowned as One of Nation's Youngest Monarchs

Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was crowned Malaysia's 13th king Wednesday in a traditional ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry, becoming the second youngest monarch.

Mizan, the sultan of the oil-and-gas rich Terengganu state, was sworn in at the palace as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong — the Malay title for the king — under a system that allows traditional state rulers to take turns ruling the entire country.

At 44, Mizan is the youngest of the current nine state rulers. He succeeded 63-year-old Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, the ruler of Perlis state, who was given a grand farewell Tuesday after completing his reign.

Under an unusual rotational system introduced toward the end of British colonial rule in the 1950s, the nine hereditary state rulers take turns on the throne for five years.

Earlier, Mizan and Queen Nur Zahirah were given a 21-gun salute in a welcome at the Parliament after inspecting an honor guard and meeting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other Cabinet ministers.

They were then driven in a Rolls-Royce to the palace for the swearing-in ceremony, causing a traffic snarl in parts of Kuala Lumpur.

Mizan, dressed in yellow, the royal color, took his oath of office and signed his investiture letter witnessed by other state rulers and Cabinet ministers. The ceremony was broadcast live on national television.

Abdullah then proclaimed Mizan as Malaysia's new king and the ceremony ended with prayers of blessings for him.

Mizan will be formally installed next year in a grander affair that includes other ceremonial rituals and traditions. The date has not been set.

The king's role is largely ceremonial, and the power to govern lies with Parliament and the prime minister. But for Malay Muslims, who comprise 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people, the king is the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and symbolic head of Islam.

Mizan received his early education in Terengganu and also studied in Australia and the U.S. International University-Europe in London, where he obtained a degree in international relations. He also attended Britain's Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.

Mizan was crowned Terengganu's sultan in 1998, succeeding his late father and becoming the country's youngest state ruler at age 36. He and Queen Nur Zahirah have four children.

An avid sportsman, Mizan was to have represented Malaysia in the equestrian competition at the Asian Games in Doha but he withdrew from the event because it clashed with his coronation.

Mizan's 8-year-old son Tengku Muhammad Ismail was appointed Tuesday as regent of Terengganu and would lead the state in the absence of his father for the next five years. A three-member advisory council has been set up to help the young prince carry out his duties.