JOHOR BARU: Visitors outside the Istana Bukit Serene crown arch yesterday were surprised to see the Johor sultan come out on a Honda Dash Wave motorcycle and mingle with them without protocol.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, who was inspecting the cleanliness of the palace gardens at the time, obliged some photographs with the visitors at the palace entrance.
Pushing palace protocal aside, Sultan Ibrahim approached the families with small children and greeted them, much to their delight.
Sultan Ibrahim, who wore a bright red shirt, was seen in a cheerful mood as he entertained the small children during the brief meeting.
The ruler's impromptu gesture was captured on his official Facebook page, which includes photos and a short video clip of the casual meeting outside the palace gate.
A newlywed couple who were dressed in their wedding attire and were conducting a wedding photography session, seized the moment to have Sultan Ibrahim be part of the photographs.
Mohd Firdaus Mohideen, 25, a fast food supervisor in Singapore and his wife Noor Rafidah Mohamad Idris, 24, who is a fresh graduate were estatic when they saw Sultan Ibrahim emerging from the palace gate as they were getting ready to do their outdoor photoshoot.
"It's like a dream. I cannot imagine a better wedding gift for the both of us other than having our kind-hearted Sultan in our wedding photos," Firdaus told the New Straits Times.
Their wedding photos together with Sultan Ibrahim received the most likes among the six photos posted by Sultan Ibrahim on his Facebook page.
"I was delighted and honoured when the ruler chose to upload the photos we took together in front of the palace gate. My family and friends cheered us on for having an opportunity to meet and take photographs with our ruler," said Firdaus, who got to know about it when a friend tagged his Facebook profile to the photo.
Firdaus said that Sultan Ibrahim's appearance at their photoshoot was unplanned. The couple only discussed with their wedding photographer about using the Istana Bukit Serene garden and crown arch at the palace gate as backdrops for their photoshoot.
"When His Majesty appeared from the gate, we were having our photos taken a few metres away. The Sultan waved at us and I immediately waved back.
"I held up my photographer's camera to the air as a gesture of what we were doing. I totally forgot all about protocol. My wife and I were so excited when His Majesty the Sultan approached us and obliged some photographs. We were so lucky.
"The other visitors were stunned to see us taking photographs with the Sultan," said Firdaus, thanking the ruler for the lovely moment.
He said he was a proud Johorean that day, and felt honoured to have the royal touch on his special day.
"My wife and I had just left our wedding reception at my house in Taman Bintang, Senai around noon when we decided to drop by the crown arch with our wedding garb still on," he said adding that he was decked in a black suit while Rafidah was in a black and orange wedding dress with hijab.
Rafidah, who is an electrical engineering graduate from Selangor, said she was pleasantly surprised at how friendly Sultan Ibrahim was.
"After meeting His Majesty the Sultan of Johor in person, I can now vouch how warm the ruler is. His Majesty loves to be with his subjects regardless of their social status," said Rafidah.