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.
Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being
CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.
The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.
Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.
To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)
The survey closes on 25 January 2023.
Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.”
Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”
Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.
Llanelli prepares for Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade
LATER TODAY (Sunday, November 13) the town will honour those who have fallen in service over the decades.
A number of roads will be closed on the day, including Murray Street, Church Street and Vauxhall Road from its junction with the mini roundabout.
These will be shut for the parade between 8.30am and noon, however, pedestrian access for those wishing to reach individual properties in those streets will be maintained where possible throughout the duration of the closure.
Traffic will be diverted to Robinson Street, Arthur Street, Columbia Row, Anne Street, Bigyn Road, Stepney Place, Water Street, Thomas Street and Gelli Onn.
At 10am, police, organisations and others not marching in the parade will take up their respective positions in front of the cenotaph in the town hall grounds, while the civic party will assemble inside Llanelli Town Hall.
At 10.15am the parade leaves Drill Hall for the town hall with the mayor Cllr Philip Warlow proceeding to the Boer War Memorial where he will lay a wreath.
When the parade arrives at the town hall, the civic party will proceed to the cenotaph where the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards, will lay a wreath.
This will be followed by the chair of Carmarthenshire Council Cllr Rob Evans, laying a wreath on the Royal Welch War Memorial and then on the town’s cenotaph.
More wreaths will be laid by dignitaries and politicians and ex-servicemen and women A two-minute silence will then be observed at 11am.
Any service groups or individuals who wish to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday can contact Paul Wickers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While community organisations are to contact Llanelli Town Council at email@example.com.
Contact should be made by Monday, October 31 at the very latest to confirm arrangements as no additional wreaths will be able to be accommodated on the day.
Llanelli choir launches fundraising naked calendar
MEMBERS of a Llanelli female choir have bared all to raise money for the town’s Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.
Côr Curiad has created a cheeky fundraising calendar for 2023 – the second one they have done.
With around 50 members, photos were taken across Llanelli with strategically placed items to spare their blushes – all in the name of a good cause.
Llanelli photographer Graham Harries was behind the lens for the project.
The choir’s musical director Alex Esney, who is Miss December in the calendar said: “Local businesses sponsored the calendar and so many of the photos were taken at their premises.
“So for example we went to LTC Mobility Ltd and had scooters carefully positioned in front of us, it was a lot of fun.
“I also want to thank Ffwrnes Theatre for opening up especially for me to go and have my photo taken with the piano there.”
Alex said the aim is to raise as much as possible for the hospice, adding: “We did a calendar a few years ago but we now have more members so we thought it was time to do it all again.
“The ladies decided to ‘bare all’ to raise money for the hospice which provides such great care and support for families in their time of need, including two of our own.
“I think we pulled out all the stops this year, getting their clothes off at local businesses in and around Llanelli.”