Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Hearse, the coffin the farewell,flypast and the Guard. The Big Building is the Istana ie Palace

In 1959 the Sultan of Johore Sir Ibrahim died in London and his body was returned to Johore Bahru for a state funeral. The photographs below were my record of the days events.
The Sultans hearse is taken to the Istana Besar. Here is an excerpt of his death that appears in the papers in London
Shrubs in the Fairway
Monday, May. 18, 1959
In a hotel suite at London's Grosveno House last week, Sir Ibrahim, the 85-year old Sultan of Johore, died of "genera debility." He had passed his last years quietly, watching TV. going to the theater, enjoying the company of his sixth wife, Sultana Marcella, and his adored eight-year-old daughter, Princess Meriam. "He was very rich, very brave and very, very fond of Britain," said the Daily Express, with an imperial sigh for the good old days. Men on three continents traded reminiscences about the strapping Sultan's prowess in love, tiger hunting and polo, told of his great generosity, autocratic tantrums and noble eccentricities. Some of them:
¶ As a young man, the Sultan used to slip from his dull capital of Johore Bharu across the strait to Singapore, where his pursuit of wine, women and song was so uninhibited that annoyed British authorities established a 10 p.m. curfew for the young monarch's own good, and set a brace of policemen on his heels to enforce it. If a car had the temerity to pass him on a Johore highway, the Sultan would improve his marksmanship by shooting its rear tires.
¶ In 1930 the Sultan's catchable eye was caught by Helen Wilson, the Scottish wife of his physician. He divorced his four Malayan wives by the Moslem formula of telling them "Get out" three times before witnesses. Helen Wilson sailed home for the more laborious Western process of divorcing her husband, married the Sultan later that year, and honeymooned with him in the U.S., where the Sultan was equally affable with President Franklin Roosevelt and Mae West.
¶ In London for the 1937 coronation of King George VI, the Sultan's roving eye focused on a British show girl named Lydia Hill. Hurriedly muttering triple "Get outs" to Sultana Helen and giving her $250,000 in jewels and a yearly alimony of $25,000, the Sultan sailed for home with Lydia.When Singapore's British society behaved stuffily toward his show-girl fiancee, the Sultan struck back by firing all the Britons in his service and planting shrubs on the fairways and greens of the golf course used by the sahibs, which was on his property. But the romance faltered, and Lydia Hill, wearing a large diamond ring, returned to London and was killed in the blitz. "I am heartbroken," said the Sultan, who had followed her to Britain. A few days later he met reddish-blonde Rumanian Marcella Mendl and married her, explaining: "It was love at first sight."
¶ During the war, the Sultan gave $4,200,000 to the British war effort, did not lose heart even when the Japanese swept down through Johore and captured Singapore. With his wife he swore off liquor until the British reconquest. When Johore was "liberated" in 1945, the joyous Sultan cried out: "Now we can break our vow. Open the champagne!"
Despite his lively interest in women and wine, the Sultan brilliantly managed Johore, a jungle state the size of New Jersey with a population of nearly a million Malays, Indians and Chinese. When he took power in 1895 on the death of his father, the Sultan shifted the economy from opium and gambling to rubber. With other Malay states, Johore now produces one-third of the world's natural rubber. He angrily opposed self-rule for Malaya, outraged local nationalists by snapping: "It is all very well to clamor for independence, but where are your warships, your planes and your army to withstand aggression from the outside?"
The new Sultan of Johore is 64-year-old Ismail, whose mother was one of Sir Ibrahim's original four Malay wives. But Ismail can rule for only a few weeks in the semi-autocratic fashion of his dead father. Next month Johore will elect an Executive Council headed by a Prime Minister, and the Sultan will become a purely constitutional figurehead. The old days are gone, and the old ways are dying, but even the most nationalist opponents of the late, crotchety Sultan experienced a sense of loss. Said one: "He was Malaya's grand old man. His service to the Malay people will long be remembered."


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