- Sultan Hamengku Buwono X of Yogyakarta, Indonesia announced that he wants his eldest daughter to rule after he steps down
- The Muslim ruler has no sons
- This will be the first time that the Yogyakartan sultanate will have its first female monarch
Gender equality is alive and well at the heart of the kingdom on Java island. Sultan Buwono X, who has been on the throne 27 years, last year set in motion the process for his daughter to become monarch by giving her the title "Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Mangkubumi."
The title Mangkubumi, which translates from Indonesian as "the one who holds the Earth," was the same one given to the sultan when he was made crown prince several decades ago. She was also entrusted with the task of "attempting to bring safety, happiness and prosperity to the world."
The sultan has also made small changes to his own lengthy royal title - removing a word normally only used by men and tweaking another -to make it gender-neutral, opening the door for a woman to take over. Thus, while the Sultan has not confirmed publicly that she is the crown princess, the signs are clear. in Javanese culture nothing speaks more than symbolism.
However, the Sultan’s relatives are not at all pleased with these developments. The 70th birthday of Sultan Buwono X was snubbed by many of his relatives. “A female sultan is an impossibility,” the sultan's cousin, Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung Jatiningrat said. He adds that, “One symbol in this palace is a rooster -- so if we have a queen should we change it to a hen?" The family feels that the Sultan is breaking the rules laid down to govern the sultanate. Traditionally, rituals in the mosque or other ceremonies have been overseen and led by men.
"About 90 percent of the family don't respect him anymore," raged Gusti Bendoro Pangeran Haryo Prabukusumo, a stepbrother of the ruler who also did not show up for the festivities.
However, the Sultan is not worried saying there is nothing stopping him from making changes in his kingdom and he has to adapt as Indonesia modernizes. "The Yogyakarta palace doesn't have a hereditary tradition that can't be changed, and all ruling sultans can introduce changes," he told local media.
The sultan’s approximately four million subjects remain mum on the issue since most prefer to keep out of royal affairs.
And the sultan's approximately four million subjects in Yogyakarta and the surrounding area, who view him as a demi-God, have had only a muted a reaction, with most preferring to keep out of royal affairs. But some still voice strong dissents, "The king should maintain the tradition as it was originally, because this is an Islamic kingdom," said Abdurrahman, from local hardline group Islamic Jihad Front.
Indonesia is home to numerous small kingdoms. Unlike in other provinces, where sultans are largely ceremonial figures, Yogyakarta's sultan serves as both royal leader and governor of the city and its surrounding areas. Jakarta allowed the Yogyakarta royal family to keep power as the central government was grateful for the sultanate's support for independence in 1945 after a long period of Dutch colonial rule. - IS, Kami Media