Malaysian king resigns after marrying Russian beauty queen

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Malaysia's royals prepared Monday to pick a new king to replace Sultan Muhammad V, who abdicated in a historic first after reportedly marrying a Russian former beauty queen, holding a special gathering at the national palace.

The 49-year-old ruler resigned Sunday as Malaysia's 15th king, marking the first abdication in the nation's history and cutting short his five-year term.

Malaysia's nine royal households take turns to provide a king, who is chosen through a vote in a Council of Rulers, made up of the nine households, most of which are led by a sultan.

Despite the images, Prime Minister Mahathir said then that he did not have official confirmation on the wedding when questioned about it earlier this week.

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"We Malaysians pray that you will always be granted health and protection by God", ex-premier Najib Razak wrote on Facebook.

Under the rotational system, the Sultan of Pahang state, Ahmad Shah, is next in line although the sultan is ailing according to local media, a rumour the palace has strenuously denied.

Sultan Nazrin, who is the Deputy Agong, will serve as acting King in the interim.

The South China Morning Post saw a "game of thrones" getting underway in Malaysia as the Conference of Rulers, a body comprised of the nine eligible candidates for the crown plus a few non-voting provincial governors, meets to decide who the next king will be.

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While their role is ceremonial, Malaysia's Islamic royalty command great respect, especially among Muslim Malays, and criticising them is strictly forbidden.

According to the New Straits Times, His Royal Highness Sultan Muhammad V will return to Kelantan to be with the state government following his resignation.

The palace statement said the king was grateful for the opportunity given to him by the Council of Rulers and thanked the prime minister and government. However, the king's assent is needed before the appointment of a prime minister or senior public officials. For example, the Agong is the custodian of Islam in the country and has three major functions; appointing the Prime Minister, dissolving parliament to make way for elections, and to call for meetings involving the conference of rulers.

But such a marriage is unlikely to sit well with the country´s conservative royal households.

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