Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs, has marked 50 years on the throne with a Golden Jubilee chariot procession through his nation’s capital.
Celebrations began Thursday with a gun salute and a reception at the Sultan’s grand palace, ending with a procession led by a golden chariot carrying the Sultan and his wife through Bandar Seri Begawan.
The chariot, carried by 50 people, was accompanied by marching bands and a military parade. More than 80,000 people lined the route of the procession, according to Reuters reports.
One of the world’s richest royals, with a private fortune estimated at $20 billion, the 71-year-old Sultan has enjoyed the second-longest reign in the world, after that of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Among those due to attend the festivities were Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to news releases from their respective governments.
Other Southeast Asian leaders were also expected to be on hand. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi would take part in the celebrations.
On Friday, a Jubilee banquet will held at the royal palace.
The Sultan succeeded his father on October 5, 1967, and celebrated his coronation in August 1968. Since achieving independence from Britain in 1984, Brunei has had an absolute monarchy.
Rich oil and natural-gas reserves have contributed to the country’s booming economy and ensured a high standard of living for its 400,000-plus population.
In 2014, the Sultan came under heavy criticism when Brunei became the first east Asian country to adopt Islamic Sharia law.