WHEN EXPLORING his family tree, Keith Williams was shocked to find out that not only was he the first-born son of the 33rd Sultan of Malaysia, but he was also his biological heir. Keith’s father was one of 9 different sultans in Malaysia. Each sultan takes turns to rule the country for 5 years, before retiring into luxury.
Keith, a retired Pembrokeshire coal delivery man, lives with his wife Vanessa in a cosy bungalow in Penygroes – a contrast to his father who was brought up in the huge golden-turreted palace Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar.
Keith was put up for adoption by his birth mother when he was 4 months old and lived at the Caeglas Children’s Home in Ffairfach until he was 18 months old. Keith was then adopted and grew up in a loving family home with his adoptive parents. He found out that he was adopted when he was 13 years old, which was around the time that his father ascended to the throne from prince to 33rd Sultan.
Keith left school at 15 to join his adoptive father’s coal delivery business. Unfortunately, due to delivering 112lb sacks of coal for over 20 years, he developed chronic back pain. This condition forced him to retire 6 years ago.
He did not make any attempts to track down his biological parents until after the birth of his first grandchild, following a suggestion by his wife. Keeping his mission a secret from his adoptive parents and armed with only a marriage certificate and an address for someone who witnessed his mother’s wedding, he was met with many dead ends along the way. In his late forties, he received an address and began writing to his mother, Elizabeth Rosa Hodge. Having been apart for nearly 50 years, they eventually reunited. His mother was now living in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire andhad two daughters and a son with her Polish husband George Grzegorez.
Keith had 16 “wonderful” years with his birth mother until she died at 81 years of age. In their years spent with one another she pieced together the story of his heritage, divulging the information that his father was Malaysian royalty.
He learned that his mother had been swept off her feet into a whirlwind romance with London university student and sultan Idris Iskandar Al- Mutawakki Alallahi Shah whilst she was a 17 year old student nurse in Surrey. After falling pregnant, she returned to her Llanelli home and after the birth put Keith up for adoption.
The sultan returned to Malaysia to avoid the royal scandal that would’ve been brought on by having a baby out of wedlock with a foreign ‘commoner’, and Elizabeth lost all contact with him. She learned that he never received any of her letters, but she had kept everything she had written to him and the photos they had taken together.
In a step towards finding his father, Keith requested his birth records from Social Services. The documents listed a description of him which said that “The father of the child is a Malaysian. A married man with a family.” This would later serve as his proof.
Keith said that the search for his biological father was difficult due to the sultan’s royal status. He eventually found out that the 33rd sultan was his father but had died in 1984 of a heart attack and had left behind 10 children.
Upon learning of his father’s death, Keith decided to attempt to contact some of his half brothers and sisters in Malaysia. By chance, his son Simon stumbled across a photo of the sultan on MySpace. The woman who had posted the image was the Sultan’s daughter, Ku Ess.
After contacting Ku Ess, Keith decided to take a DNA test to prove his heritage to his Malaysian family. He asked one of his half-brothers for a male DNA sample to compare against his own, but was shocked to receive a reply stating that they were no ordinary family and did not want to openly expose any skeletons in the cupboard.
Keith began to think that due to the amount of the power the Sultan had, he must also be extremely wealthy, and concluded that the family were not only afraid of a scandal, but also were worried that an unknown Welshman would swoop in and seize their fortune and their power. Although pondering the idea of money being left in the sultan’s will, Keith made it abundantly clear that money was not the motive behind reaching out to his Malay family, but instead it was the chance to meet and learn more of his background.
After travelling to Malaysia, he made contact with one of his half-brothers and visited his father’s mausoleum, of which Keith said “was fantastic and very emotional. I would’ve loved to meet him.” On receiving a tour of the grand palace in which his father grew up, he humorously commented that “It took two and a half minutes to drive around the Sultan’s palace – it would take two and a half seconds to drive around my place.” His half sister also visited him discreetly whilst he was staying at a hotel in Malaysia.
Keith says his shocking discovery is “like a story from a Disney film.” Reflecting on the lifestyle of a sultan, he said “I’ve worked all my life and never wanted for anything. I got married when I was 21 and Vanessa and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in April.” He believes that regardless of his current or future circumstances, he won’t change who he is and appreciates his place within his community – “I’m still Keith y Glo – Keith the Coal.”
Keith hopes to meet more of his Malaysian relatives in the next few years, and also learn more about his father and his new extended family.
New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital
WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces.
Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.
Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.
James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.
Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.
Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.
Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.
M4 closed westbound following lorry fire near Swansea
A SECTION of the M4 near Swansea was shut on Monday (Aug 8) due to a vehicle fire.
The westbound section of the motorway, between junction 47 at Penllergaer and junction 48 at Hendy closed.
Emergency services were called to the scene, and there was queuing traffic in the area.
Traffic monitoring service Inrix reported: “M4 Westbound closed, queueing traffic due to vehicle fire between J47 A48 (Penllergaer / Swansea West Services) and J48 A4138 Pontardulais Road”
Police appeal after Llanelli assault: victim required hospital treatment
DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating an assault which occurred on Regalia Terrace, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire at about 12.05am, Sunday 3rd July.
The victim required hospital treatment.
Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.
They would like to identify the person in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.
Anyone who knows who the person is, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.
This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 101.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.
Please quote reference DP-20220703-011
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.