Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a unique arrangement where the national throne changes hands every five years between rulers of the country's nine states. Pahang state is due to provide the next ruler.
The country was thrown into shock Sunday when reigning king Sultan Muhammad V abdicated unexpectedly after just two years of rule, following reports that he married an ex-beauty queen in Russia in November during a purported two-month medical leave.
The abdication was the first for the country since its independence from British rule in 1957.
Royal officials have not commented on the reported wedding, or said what condition prompted the former king to take the leave.
While their role is ceremonial, Malaysia's royalty command great respect, especially from Malaysia's predominantly Muslim Malays, and criticising them is regarded as offensive.
Malaysia's sultans trace a lineage back to the Malay sultanates of the 15th century.
The king is referred to as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or "He Who Is Made Lord".
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