Courtiers in elaborate outfits danced to the gentle tinkling of Javanese music as the Sultan of Yogyakarta looked on, a scene that has played out in much the same way for centuries in the tiny Indonesian kingdom.
But the recent ceremony to mark the 70th birthday of Hamengku Buwono X, Indonesia’s last sultan with real political power, had one key difference from previous celebrations — many of his relatives refused to attend.
A bitter feud has erupted at the heart of the kingdom on Java island, after the Muslim ruler signalled he wants his eldest daughter to become the sultanate’s first female monarch after he leaves the throne.
Indonesia is home to numerous small kingdoms. But while other provinces now elect political rulers and their sultans are largely ceremonial figures, Yogyakarta’s sultan serves as both royal leader and governor of the city and its surrounding areas. Read More