Throwing stones from the glasshouse

an opinion on just about anything

She’s still the ‘Princess’


Jacqueline Pascarl would be known to few people outside of two countries; Australia and Malaysia. In 1992, her two children Iddin and Shah, were taken by their father, Prince Raja Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Shah, and taken to Malaysia. Yes, it was illegal under Australian law, and yes, we all felt for Ms. Pascarl, or as she was known then, Jacqueline Gillespie. She wote a book on the subject, ‘Once I Was a Princess’ (1995), and has recently revisited the story in her follow up book, ‘Since I Was a Princess’ (2007). After hearing a recent interview with Ms. Pascarl, a number of things just didn’t quite make me lend a sympathetic ear anymore.


Ms. Pascarl was being interviewed by journalist Jon Faine, a morning radio talk show host in Melbourne. The interview started well, as Ms.Pascarl talked about her recent reunion with her two children, now 20 and 23. While everything in the interview centred around her, and her new book, she was extremely pleasant. She was the loving, happy mother, glad to be in contact with her kids once again, after such a traumatic split.

However, as is Jon Faine’s style, he started to bring up some of the past Ms. Pascarl didn’t want to talk about. It’s very convenient to write not one, but two books about one side of the story, but what Faine wanted to bring up was the fact that Ms. Pascarl and her then husband Iain Gillespie, had the children baptised Christian, against their Muslim father’s wishes. This offended the Prince, as it was perceived as an insult to him. For those of you familiar with asian customs, keeping ‘face’ is extremely important. Faine also pressed Pascarl to admit that she hadn’t discussed this important matter with her husband at any time they were together. She angrily retorted that ‘it wasn’t the point!” Little Princess Jacqueline was not getting her way.

Needless to say that the interview went downhill from there. What did surprise me was the level of emotion Ms. Pascarl displayed. She cried, whined, and began to very quickly sound like a little child who was used to always getting her way. She was for once in her life being put under the spotlight, and made to justify the claims she has made in her books. She is happy to write the books, make plenty of money out of them, but don’t question her. She was the persecuted one. She had her children ripped away. She gets the sympathy. That’s the deal.

There is something about Ms. Pascarl that says to me she loves the attention of it all, as long as the attention is all about her, and all about her side of the story. Faine continued to pursue Pascarl thoughout her crying and whining by simply saying, and I paraphrase, ” I’m not trying to upset you, but for all these years we have only heard one side of the story.” Prince Bahrin Shah has himself written a book about his recollection of events, and Faine wanted this to be brought to the surface. To take on Pascarl when most of Australia is firmly behind her is very risky. Although Faine can be pigheaded, and a major smart arse, on this occasion he was right. He never for one moment said that he believed the Prince, and no one can deny that what the Prince did was a criminal offence.  The Parliament of Australia characterised this removal as an “abduction.”

People do things for a reason, and that reason can sometimes be provocation. We see this all the time around the world. Israel’s existence as a state is provocation to the arab. Suicide bombing is an answer to what is seen as provocation by the west. Wars in general happen because someone ‘provoked’ someone else. Dr Mahatir, the then Malaysian Prime Minister, started hating Australians after then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating provoked him by calling him ‘recalcitrant’ after his non-appearance at an APEC summit.

Jacqueline Pascarl provoked her husband. Should he have responded by abducting his children? Of course not. But Jacqueline Pascarl, as highlighted by Jon Faine, was totally insensitive to her ex husband and believed that her plan for the children was her decision alone. She obviously did not wish to see his point. Of course not. If she did, she would not have made a lot of money out of the ‘sad and sorry Princess’ routine.

I remember when this was big news in Australia. Pascarl’s then husband, Iain Gillespie, always fronted the media, and fended off the tough questions. This is what I have just discovered while researching this blog:

“Upon the return of his wife’s abducted daughter Shah in 2006, her husband Bill (Crocaris) was the spokesperson for his wife to the media pack that had formed outside of their house.”

Must come with the job of being Pascarl’s husband. She doesn’t seem to cope with an overly inquisitive media.

Enjoy your day.


26 comments on “She’s still the ‘Princess’

  1. Annie
    June 3, 2008

    I never thought of it that way. I am know going to get her books and the fathers books and compare the two. Abduction of children by a parent, is not the easy way out of a situation. Sometimes the parent feels that it is the only way out, but in this case is was wrong. I have noticed that Jacqueline Pascarl, only ever wants to talk about how much she suffered. I am very curious to hear the father’s side.
    The children were obviously very well looked after, and seem higly intelligent.

  2. Miss Bizarre
    June 7, 2008

    I wonder why she left out the fact that she got pregnant with her daughter, Verity, to a married Sydney businessman whilst still married to Iain Gillespie. She dumped Gillespie when a deal with the National bank went horribly wrong involving a television series named House Hunt Doesn’t seem too christian to me!

    Verity’s father was/is? married to a Sydney divorce lawyer and he soon dumped Ms. Pascarl-Gillespie-Crocaris-Can’t spell the Prince’s Last name when she started pulling stunts like slashing her wrists in the bath. Ms. Pascarl requested he be at the birth and his wife said that would be fine … “as long as she could be there too”. He didn’t attend.

    Poor Iain Gillespie doesn’t get much of a mention in the sequel, does he? Considering the kidnapped children called him Daddy, he wasn’t even informed they had been “found”. She states their marriage ended in 1995, but I would say that was news to Iain Gillespie, given he was still funding her overseas trips right up until their divorce in 2000 and Jacqueline was sending him intimate, detailed emails about saving poor African children inbetween meeting celebrities.

    I wonder what he thought if he bothered to read her second book. Finding out your wife was cheating with a Belgium? chocolate fan can’t have been sweet.

    Jackie, you need to learn to tell the truth.

  3. mizan
    June 9, 2008

    Raja Bahrin side : The Raja Bahrin Story : A father’s dramatic rescue mission

    actually she returned to Australia in 1985 taking her Malaysian-born Muslim children on the pretext to visit her sick grandmother as a result her husband took a second wife.

  4. mizan
    June 9, 2008

    Aussie should also read Raja Bahrin side :

    The Raja Bahrin Story : A father’s dramatic rescue mission

    Paperback : 273 pages
    Publisher : Times Book International (1997)
    Language : English
    ISBN-10: 981204731X
    ISBN-13: 978-9812047311

  5. damob
    June 9, 2008

    Thank you to all those who have responded to this blog, and thank you to ‘mizan’ for the details of the Prince Raja Bahrin book. I always believe that both sides of the story need to be heard, and in this case,they haven’t been. Your input has been greatly valued.

  6. Brad
    June 19, 2008

    This is crazy. The kids got baptised – Horror of horrors. And then the prince was offended? By all means, remove them from their mother then, and that’s fine? Really?

    You’re also ignoring the reason WHY she brought them home – but that’s immaterial perhaps. Not worth noting the beatings, and what amounts to rape.

    If you recall, while the kids did reside in Australia, the prince still had access. He did not extend the same courtesy to her, but that’s fine – after all, he did lose face. Can’t have that. Best not allow the mother any contact.

    Forget about what was good for the kids – that’s not the issue here apparently. The prince feels slighted.

    Forget about what the family court decided – the prince lost face. He was offended. That’s pretty major – obviously, we must break the law and ignore the court, put the kids on a boat (at a risk to their lives) and spirit them away overseas.

    You people are sick.

  7. Brad
    June 19, 2008

    And Mizan, I also heard she picks her nose!

    Isn’t anonymous and unsubstantiated gossip great?

  8. damob
    June 19, 2008

    Brad,thanks for your comments on the subject. I say again, both sides of this story need to be heard. I was being very forthright in my blog, and you have been just the same. However, calling us ‘sick’ is a bit extreme. You have brought up some strong facts about the case, as has Mizan. One thing I will say is that if you are going to criticise, do it properly and don’t misquote me. I never said that removing the children illegally was ok. It was not the proper response. It does prove, though, that this story still generates interest.

  9. Yahya
    July 31, 2008

    I think this post is a very good one and prompted me to google the interview and listen to it. I agree with most of your assessments.

    It seems that Jacqueline Pascarl appears to have great difficulty placing herself in “the shoes” of others and understanding things from a cultural viewpoint other than her own. She argues, for instance, that the children were “not Muslim” from birth. Yet, before her marriage, she presumably underwent some kind of conversion as her husband’s state, Terenganu, doesn’t allow marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims. In any case, the children’s birth certificates would certainly have stated their “agama” (Malay word for religion) = ISLAM. So for her to claim in that interview that there was nothing wrong with her baptizing the children since they were not Muslim is disingenous to say the least. She was really saying, it’s my right to change the religion of my children to whatever I want, regardless of what I agreed to before my marriage or what the children’s father might think.

    I also agree that this doesn’t justify the father of the children disobeying the law and abducting the kids. But I do think that Jon Faine’s interview is very revealing about the insensitive personality which contributed to these events. I suspect both partners had faults, but I also agree with Faine’s argument that Australian’s have only ever been told one side of the story.

  10. damob
    August 1, 2008

    Thank you Yahya, for your comments. I know it’s a contentious issue, but I am glad you listened to the interview and judged for yourself. Thanks for spending the time to read my blog. Come back and visit again.

  11. kandi
    August 14, 2008

    I think that what ever else has happened in Jacquelines life is irrelevant, I don’t care if she slept with 30,000 men while married etc, she still did not deserve to go through the physical, mental and emotional trauma of having her kids snatched without even a hug goodbye.

    I think the PRINCE (ha!) has alot to answer for and that he is a self centred power hungry wife beater.. he took the second wife before she returned to aussie. I am proud of Jacqueline for having the courage to attempt such a brave feat for her children. I don’t think at the time she was thinking of writing a book and becoming famous from it.. People need to use some common sense when leaving blogs, the fact is what happended to her was horrible, and nobody, NOBODY should ever have to go through that pain!!

  12. kandi
    August 14, 2008

    I have to add further that “Once I was a princess” was banned in Malaysia.

    Now why would the PRINCE (choke!) ban the book if he was so proud of his actions and honest with the public about the details and reasons behind it..
    Let’s face it, he was scared that if her book made it to his country that one. his kids would find out that he was a rapist and a wife beater two. that he was an adulterer which made it to the papers in Malaysia before his wife found out and three. that he wasn’t as concerned for their muslim upbringing as he made out.

    Again, the fact people are commenting on how much money has been made out of this etc baffles me as I’m sure any parent in the world would agree with amount of money in the world could ever cure the pain of children “gone”


  13. damob
    August 14, 2008

    Out of all my blog posts, this one generates the most discussion. I allow every comment to come through, that’s what free speech is all about. I throw stones, and I have always invite you, the reader, to throw them back. However, if you are to criticise, then do it with a sense of maturity, and not emotion driven. And please, read what I say, and don’t misquote me. To write things like PRINCE (choke!) is silly and childish. To call him a ‘self centred, power hungry wife beater’ and ‘rapist’ are your own assumptions. To say HE banned the book is another assumption. He is not the government, and Malaysian royalty don’t have as much power as other royal families, if any real significant power. It is not an absolute monarchy.
    All I have ever wanted was a balanced view.

  14. Tin Chuat
    August 26, 2008

    Those children (Iddin and Shahirah) were born in Malaysia to a Malaysian father.
    So they were Malaysian-born children and also Malaysian citizens.

    * Malaysia disalllow dual nationality.

  15. nOR HaFiZ jEleBu
    November 2, 2008

    Two side story:

    a)Once I was a Princess by Jacqueline Pascarl

    b)The Raja Bahrin Story: A father’s dramatic rescue mission by Raja Bahrin Shah & Bryan Wickham

  16. Cassy
    November 8, 2008


    Iddin and Shahirah were born in Malaysia to a Malaysian father and are Malaysian citizens.

  17. Susan
    November 10, 2008

    actually she returned to Australia in 1985 taking her Malaysian-born children on the pretext to visit
    her sick grandmother as a result her husband took a second wife and knowing full she was not returned.

    * Those children were born in Malaysia to Malaysian father and are Malaysian citizens.
    So who was the criminal?

    Source: Once I was a Princess

  18. stefany
    November 28, 2008

    Malaysian headlines in 1992:

    ‘Aussie Police lookout for Raja’s children’
    ‘children were born in Malaysia and are Malaysian citizens’
    ‘children were born in Malaysia to a Malaysian father and are Malaysian citizens’
    ‘Malaysian-born Muslim children’

  19. atirah
    January 23, 2009

    very interesting..
    i know,i’m only 18..but this issue have caught my attention..
    this matter seems to me like it ‘heated’ malaysians and australians..
    not to mention muslims and christians..
    malaysia is an islamic nation,to make long story short..the royals are also muslim..
    as far as i am concerned,nobody in the royal family are christians,or chinese,etc.
    for royal family, religion is the most important thing to be protected as the businesses related to religious matter are refered to the sultans in malaysia..and as for muslims, the responsibility of protecting children’s religion,providing them enough education of it,and making sure that childrens have practised it in their daily life are given to the fathers as they are considered as the ‘khalifah’ or the leader to the family..i am not supporting raja bahrin’s act of taking his children out of australia years ago,but as i said before..not only to muslims,but i do think all religion have their responsibility of protecting their religion..and maybe for raja bahrin,when his children are baptised,he felt that he had to do something about it as he is the biological father of his children,he felt is the one who’s responsible to protect them as they are born,as muslims i mean..i don’t really know what i am talking about,but what i am trying to say is,a father has to do what a father must do..raja bahrin has fighted the australian family court for years and the result he get is,his children being baptised and he didn’t even know anything about it..i guess,he just felt that he have to do something about,his kids are malaysian,they are born in malaysia..why should the matter be brought to australian court?raja bahrin and his ex-wife even married in malaysia,..oh yes!one more thing..
    islam does not look down on women!
    i read some statements on this story and as a muslim,and women-to-be,^_^..i am actually very dissapointed..islam never neglect womens..for women who have just converted into islam, not be a muslim only for marriage,i plead..please understand this religion deeply..raja bahrin’s ex-wife,from my point of view,is ready for the marriage,but she is not ready to be a muslim,she didn’t deeply learn about it before and when she’s married,maybe the new life of being a muslim and as a regular people stressed her as the life of being a princess in malaysia is completely different from being a princess there,not as she imagined it would be..and there goes this and that..
    whatever it is,i respect both and i really believe they have their own reason for their action..wallahualam..
    lets pray that they will be living a happier life,and these kind of thing will never happen again,.

    • damob
      February 12, 2009

      Thank you for your comments. For such a young person, you are incredibly insightful. I appreciate you spending some time with my blog, and thanks for your contribution to the debate.

  20. nadine
    March 20, 2009

    I was in my teens when this story came up in the papers.I its crucial to hear from both sides.

    I think it was irresponsible and selfish for the the Prince to take a second wife(even if this is allowed in Islam). I don’t know what type of marriage he and Ms.Pascarl had, if they were happy or not! But they had two young kids and Ms.Pascarl had earlier moved to another country and may have converted to islam to marry the man she loved. Mind you Trengganu (the state they lived in)is one the conservative traditional state in Malaysia. Surely it was a cultural shock for Ms.Pascarl. And when the Prince took a second wife, surely she was devastated and the only solution she could think of that is to take her Malaysian kids to Australia on a pretext to visit her sick mother and then file a divorce from him from Australia.

    But she was also selfish when she decided to divorce her then husband from Australia and remained in Australia without his consent. It is also a case of abduction in Malaysian views.

    Finally when their divorced was confirmed and she remarried, obviously she converted back to her original religion but to baptized the Muslim children is a disgraced to the prince. He had no option but to take them back to Malaysia in whatever manner.

    Thank god the children turned out alright and had a happy upbringing. The Prince did a good job. It is also good that the children is now reunited with Ms.Pascarl.

    In this situation, both parents are to be blame for being selfish and egoistic as they failed to save their marriage and also failed be an “adult” about the divorce. They both lack of respect for each other that lead both of them to further hurt each other even after they are divorce, using the children as a tool. I noticed this is common among bitter divorce parents using their children as the battleground.

    Now, 17 years later its time to forgive and forget and let the children be happy having both parents in their lives. Ms.Pascarl was invited by the Prince to attend their daughter’s wedding recently.

    Finally a happy ending!

  21. Lee
    March 25, 2009

    Once I was a Princess (1995)
    Author: Jacqueline Pascarl

    The Raja Bahrin Story: A father’s dramatic rescue mission (1997)
    Authors: Raja Bahrin Shah & Bryan Wickham

  22. Tom
    March 26, 2009

    -Those children were born in Malaysia and are Malaysian citizens.
    -born in Malaysia to a Malaysian father, Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah.
    -The children’s mother, Jacqueline Gillespie, an Australian, took them from their birthplace, Malaysia in 1985 on a pretext to visit her sick grandmother.
    -Once she reached there, she filed for divorce.She told to the court there that she badly served in Malaysia and dared not return to file divorce since she married in Malaysia under Malaysian law and Islamic customs.
    -An Australian court then granted Jacqueline sole custody in 1986 but Malaysia equally said the children should be with their biological father.
    -In July 1992,Raja Bahrin went to Australia and brought home his children from Australia in a journey of thousands kilometres through road, sea, air and Indonesian archipleago.

    -The Australian Press reported the children’s return to Malaysia as kidnapping.
    -Malaysian media: Return / Rescue (Religion.

  23. Sheri
    April 3, 2009

    My grandmother was married to malaysian royalty during the 1940’s. She had two children as well, a boy and a girl. She told me of how supressed she was and the violence she endured. She left made her own way and the royal family cut all ties so that when the children got older they were not entitled to anything. She went on to marry a second time and had my mum. I can understand why jackie felt so twisted with knowing that her kids were going to be raised in that way, without our aussie freedom. I belive her side because it coreallates so much with what my own grandma went through. I know the sacrifices my nana made so i am aware and sympathise with what jackie did. Regardless of hearing one side – Bahrin committed a criminal offence and it was out of spite to hurt jackie. Men like that never forget ills done to them, he bided his time and struck when least expected. Dont b hard on Jackie, no mother or parent should ever have to suffer what she did, she has more strength tucked away than u could imagine and she did not deserve to miss out on growing with her children.

  24. Sheri
    April 3, 2009

    And to Tom above …… the children were Australian Citizens, thats why it was reported as an abduction also.

  25. damob
    April 3, 2009

    This story continues to get attention from both sides of the argument, and I thank everyone for their contributions to the debate.
    It is a tough debate, and both sides have very solid and sound arguments. However, these children would have been Malaysian citizens if they were born in Malaysia. Are they also Australian citizens? I’m not sure.
    Thw Prince’s abduction was illegal under Australian law as the children were legally living with their mother. Had the Prince gone through the proper channels to regain custody, he may have gotten it.
    What has been brought up within the context of this discussion is whether Ms. Pascarl knowingly abducted the children from Malaysia. If we are going to blame the Prince, then Malaysia has every right to blame Ms. Pascarl.

    **I have had to stop comments for this post, as the comments are starting to repeat themselves, and repeat facts about Malaysian citizenship etc. I apologise for those of you who wish to comment on this post in a logical and sensible way, but it was starting to get ridiculous. A few are spoling the debate for many. I thank those of you who have sensibly added your comments.**

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2008 by in Social commentary.
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