Brunei, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Sultan's reign

The country is on holiday for over two weeks. During the reign of Hassanal Bolkiah, the country reached full independence from Britain. The procession in a golden carriage towed by his subjects is the culmination of today's ceremonies. The long reign of controversy and the introduction of Sharia. 

Bandar Seri Begawan (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Brunei Sultanate is party to the jubilee of the reign of Hassanal Bolkiah, the second longest reigning monarch in the world after British Queen Elisabeth II. On the throne of the small state of Borneo in October 1967, the 71-year-old sultan is also Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

The celebrations for the Sultan's Golden Jubilee began today with several official ceremonies and will last for over two weeks. Tomorrow a lively banquet will take place, in which South East Asian and Middle Eastern leaders will take part.

This morning, Hassanal Bolkiah and his wife, Anak Hajah Saleha, inspected the royal honor guard, which preceded a military tattoo. The royal couple then officiated a public audience in the Sultans Palace, an imposing building with golden domes and 1,800 rooms. High officials of the state and members of the royal family were present at the meeting.

The culmination of today's celebrations was the procession along the streets of capital Bandar Seri Begawan. Sitting on a gold carriage towed by 50 subjects (photo), the Sultan and his wife greeted the over 60,000 people who came to pay homage.

Brunei Sultanate, with a population of about 400,000 people, has been governed by the same royal family for over 600 years. During the reign of Hassanal Bolkiah, the country has achieved full independence from Britain and the highest standard of living in the world thanks to its abundant oil and gas reserves.

The Sultan's years of power, one of the richest men in the world, have been marked by numerous controversies, including in 2014 the introduction of Sharia, Islamic law. Brunei legislation envisages amputation for theft, drinking of alcohol and abortion, stoning for adultery.