Tengku Zatashah: The people’s princess
UNLIKE many mythical princesses in fairy tales who constantly need to be saved and rescued, the modern princesses of our contemporary world are well equipped to face the hurdles of life in the new millennium. One such figure is Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. The princess of Selangor is a far cry from the helpless damsel in distress often portrayed by traditional folklore.
Zatashah, as she is fondly known by her friends, is truly a people’s princess. Despite being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, the daughter of the Sultan of Selangor is often known for being one of the most humble royal figures in Malaysia. She has always been extremely friendly and remains approachable, in spite of her social background.
“It’s how I’ve been brought up from an early age at boarding school. We were taught that everyone is equal. We learned to be independent, self-sufficient and humble. I didn’t let friends know my true identity until much later, and I think it’s better to be humble and friendly than to be aloof and spoilt,” explains the lovely princess who has always been comfortable mixing with people from all walks of life.
Married to French man Aubry Mennesson, Zatashah speaks fluent French and is currently the President of the Alliance Francaise in Kuala Lumpur.
“I actually had my first French class at eight years old in the Alice Smith School, then went on to study it further when I attended boarding school in England as French was a compulsory subject along with Maths and English. I realised at an early age that I loved languages. It was what I was good at, so I pursued French and Spanish at university, then continued on with French at the Sorbonne University from 2000-2001. Finally, I did my Master’s degree in Paris before working full-time at the L’Oreal headquarters in Paris for five years.”
The princess ranks her five-year working experience in Paris, as her life’s biggest achievement thus far. She has successfully defied most people’s negative criticisms saying that she would never be able to get a job in Paris because unemployment was very high and she is not a French or European Union (EU) citizen. According to Zatashah, France’s immigration system is such that a person has to prove that he or she is a better candidate than a French or EU local.
“I was studying my Master’s and then I got an internship placement at L’Oreal’s Headquarters where I worked a full-time job every day until 6pm. Simultaneously, I also had evening classes for my Master’s degree until 9pm. It required a huge amount of dedication. So, I was delighted to finally obtain a Magna cum Laude Master’s degree in International Relations, and was hired as the International Corporate Communications Manager. It goes to show that if you want to realise your dreams, you can do so if you work really hard for it. I beat the odds, and proved the naysayers wrong,” shares Zatashah.
Her other achievements include recently graduating from the Malaysian government’s initiative, Women Directors’ Programme to serve on boards of public-listed companies, as well as Insead’s Finance for Executives programme 2014 in Singapore.
Currently working on various development projects in architectural lighting design under Light Cibles Malaysia, Zatashah shares that it is an exciting time in Malaysia as developments are underway. She is also happy to see that her clients understand the need for proper lighting design.
During her spare time, the modest royal loves playing tennis and discovered a passion for body combat workout sessions like mixed martial arts consisting of Muay Thai and karate. She reads a lot in her downtime, as she believes it is the best form of relaxation.
As the president of the Alliance Francaise in Kuala Lumpur, Zatashah is busy promoting the recently launched French Art and Film Festival 2014 (FAFF). The festival which goes on till June 21, promises exciting events such as cinema screenings at Golden Screen Cinemas, photography exhibitions, dance performances, music recitals and gastronomy displays. The event will also coincide with the French Music Festival known as the Fete de la Musique public holiday in France with a musical performance by Melissa Laveaux on Jun 21 in Kuala Lumpur.
For more information on the French Art and Film Festival 2014, log on to faff.com.my
Pictures courtesy of Tengku Zatashah