TIMELINE: Inside the fairytale romance between Sultan Muhammad V and Russian model Rihana, which crumbled in months and left her a single mum

This fairytale has a very sad ending.
Instagram/rihanapetra

Note: This story has been updated with statements from Sultan Muhammad V’s lawyers issued on October 10.

Malaysia’s biggest royal scandal of the year has finally come to a head, after the ex-wife of Kelantan Sultan Muhammad V finally admitted that the pair were formally divorced following months of denials.

The couple’s marriage may have begun with a romantic meet-cute, but came crashing to an end shortly after their highly-speculated wedding ceremony, with the identity of their baby’s father now in question.

Business Insider compiled a recap of the fairytale romance, messy divorce and everything in between.


2004: Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, the 35-year-old Crown Prince of Kelantan, marries Thai royal Kangsadal Pipitpakdee, 24.

The pair have no children, and divorce in 2008.

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Facebook/Sultan Muhammad V

Source: The Star, The Straits Times


2013: Oksana Voevodina graduates from the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

A Russian reality TV series, “Holidays in Mexico 2”, features a participant who has pool sex on her first day on the show.

Russian media claim the person is Voevodina, as the two have the same facial features, height, weight, and educational background.

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YouTube screenshot

Source: Oksana Voevodina, KP


2015: Voevodina wins the Miss Moscow beauty pageant.

She later claims the Sultan told her in private he had married and divorced a Czech woman around this time.

The Sultan’s lawyers have denied the claim, calling it “untrue and false”.

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YouTube screenshot

Source: Oksana Voevodina


2016: Voevodina earns a masters in international marketing, and opens a beauty salon in Moscow with a friend.

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Pixabay

Source: Oksana Voevodina


2017: Muhammad Faris Petra – now Sultan Muhammad V – becomes King under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy system.

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Facebook/Sultan Muhammad V (Tuanku Muhammad Faris Petra)

Voevodina travels to Europe to model for jeweler Jacob Arabo. She and the Sultan meet at a dinner party.

He introduces himself as the King, which she takes as a joke at first, and she introduces herself as the Queen of Moscow.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana VoevodinaOksana Voevodina, Oksana Voevodina


Voevodina claims the Sultan falls in love at first sight, while she is hit by a sudden premonition that he will father her children.

The couple talk all night, exchange numbers, and start calling each other daily, she says.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana VoevodinaOksana Voevodina, Oksana Voevodina


Voevodina is offered a one-year modelling contract in New York.

She says the distraught Sultan begs her not to make a decision yet. He invites her family to visit Malaysia, and over a romantic evening, confesses he loves their daily chats.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana Voevodina


The Sultan asks Voevodina to be his wife, saying his biggest dream is to have children.

Voevodina gives up the modelling contract and moves to Kuala Lumpur, where the Sultan teaches her about Islam.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana Voevodina


April 2018: Voevodina converts to Islam and takes the Muslim name Rihana.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Rakyatku


June 2018: The Sultan, 49 and Voevodina, 25, are wed in a traditional Islamic ceremony. The Kelantan Palace does not acknowledge the union.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana Voevodina


Sultan buys Voevodina a Jacob Arabo ring worth £203,000 (US$248,000) – the same one owned by Victoria Beckham – and a Porsche Cayenne. He also gifts her Cartier jewellery.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Business Insider Malaysia


Around August, Voevodina is pregnant with a baby boy.

The Sultan gives her US$20,000 (RM84,000) during her pregnancy for medical fees and living expenses, his lawyers say.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana Voevodina, Business Insider Malaysia


Nov 2018: The couple hold an extravagant (but halal) dinner reception for their friends and family in Moscow’s Barvikha Concert Hall. Leaked photos of the event result in a media frenzy.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: The Star, The Straits Times


Tabloids publish screenshots of Voevodina’s alleged pool sex clip, and provocative shots of her in bikinis. The photos cause controversy in conservative Malaysia.

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YouTube screenshot

Dec 2018: After the wedding fiasco, Voevodina leaves of her own accord to Russia, the Sultan’s lawyers say.

The model, however, tells Daily Mail he abandoned her and that she was unable to reach him, his friends, or his family.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Business Insider Malaysia, Mail OnlineOksana Voevodina


Jan 2019: The Sultan becomes Malaysia’s first King to abdicate the throne, with observers speculating the move is linked to controversy over his new wife.

In a later interview, Voevodina says: “I’m sure it’s not because of me.”

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Facebook/KDYMM Sultan Muhammad V

Source: Reuters, Mail Online, Oksana Voevodina


April 2019: The Sultan’s brother, the Crown Prince, marries a Swedish foreigner. The marriage is announced by the Kelantan Palace, and his wife is given a royal title.

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Facebook/Unit Media Pejabat Sultan Kelantan

Source: Business Insider Malaysia


May 2019: Amid a difficult pregnancy, Voevodina spends two months in a Swiss hospital hooked to IV drips, and sells her wedding ring at “three times less than its cost” to pay for the treatment, she tells the Daily Mail.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Daily Mail


Voevodina gives birth to son Leon Ismail Petra on May 21.

“My life has changed forever,” she says on Instagram.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana VoevodinaOksana Voevodina


The new mother goes on to suffer postpartum depression, with mood swings 10 times a day.

The baby suffers from jaundice, giving him yellowed skin – which Voevodina mistakes for his natural Asian colour.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana VoevodinaOksana Voevodina


The Sultan offers “a significant and generous sum” in exchange for Voevodina’s promise to “preserve and protect his privacy”, lawyers say.

Voevodina rejects, adding that a UK tabloid promised to pay “handsomely” for her story, they add.

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Instagram/maxkoliberdin

Source: Business Insider Malaysia


June 2019: Voevodina starts an Instagram account, where she posts photos of her son and the Sultan. It gains half a million followers.

On the account, she styles herself Rihana Oksana Petra.

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Instagram screenshot

On June 22, the Sultan quietly files for divorce in Singapore’s Syariah Court. He uses the triple talaq method – a harsh and irreversible type of Islamic divorce. A copy of the divorce certificate is leaked online.

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Berita Harian

Source: The Straits Times


July 2019: After Voevodina calls her baby the Crown Prince of Kelantan, the Kelantan Palace issues a statement that Muhammad V’s brother is the rightful Crown Prince.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Oksana Voevodina, Bernama


Muhammad V’s laywer, Koh Tien Hua, hints the Sultan has doubts if the child is his. Sources quoted by the Daily Mail say he has disowned the child and will not grant him a royal title.

Voevodina rubbishes the rumours, calling Koh a liar and unprofessional on an Instagram Story that is later deleted.

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Instagram screenshot

Source: The Straits Times, Daily Mail


Sep 2019: Voevodina finally admits to the divorce in an interview with the Daily Mail on Sep 27, saying she has no idea why her husband left her.

She is raising the baby with help from her family, will return to work as a marketing specialist, and plans to start a YouTube channel on the baby, she says.

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Mail Online

Source: Oksana Voevodina


The Sultan’s lawyer expresses “regret over the personal choices made in his private life”.

Daily Mail quotes sources that the model is demanding a monthly allowance of RM123,700 (US$29,500) and multi-million dollar homes in Moscow and London as alimony, but the allegation has not been verified by the Palace or Voevodina.

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Instagram/rihanapetra

Source: Business Insider Malaysia, Daily Mail


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