Hassanal Bolkiah

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Hassanal Bolkiah
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah 2019 (cropped).jpg
29th Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
Assumed office
5 October 1967
Deputy Al-Muhtadee Billah
Preceded by Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Prime Minister of Brunei Darussalam
Assumed office
1 January 1984
Deputy Al-Muhtadee Billah
Preceded byOffice created, formerly known as Chief Minister
Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of Royal Brunei Armed Forces
Assumed office
7 September 1986
Preceded by Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
1 January 1984
Preceded byOffice created
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
22 October 2015
Preceded by Mohamed Bolkiah
Chancellor of University of Brunei Darussalam
Assumed office
Preceded byOffice created
Chancellor of Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University
Assumed office
Preceded byOffice created
Chancellor of University of Technology Brunei
Assumed office
Preceded byOffice created
Personal details
Hassanal Bolkiah Muiz'zaddin Wad'daulah

(1946-07-15) 15 July 1946 (age 73)
Istana Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, British Protectorate of Brunei (now Brunei)
MotherSuri Seri Begawan (Queen Mother) Pengiran Anak Damit
Father Begawan Sultan, Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Alma mater Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom
Net worthUS$20 billion (2019) [1]
Signature Signature of Hassanal Bolkiah.svg

Hassanal Bolkiah (full name: Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; born 15 July 1946) is the 29th and current Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei, as well as the Prime Minister of Brunei, making him one of the last absolute monarchs. The eldest son of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Raja Isteri (Queen) Pengiran Anak Damit, he succeeded to the throne as the Sultan of Brunei, following the abdication of his father on 5 October 1967.


The sultan has been ranked among the wealthiest individuals in the world. In 2008, Forbes estimated the sultan's total peak net worth at US$20 billion. After Queen Elizabeth II, the sultan is the world's second longest-reigning current monarch. [2] On 5 October 2017, the sultan celebrated his Golden Jubilee to mark the 50th year of his reign on the throne. [3]

Early life

The sultan was born on 15 July 1946, in Istana Darussalam, Brunei Town (now called Bandar Seri Begawan) as Pengiran Muda Mahkota (Crown Prince) Hassanal Bolkiah. The sultan received high school education at Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, after which he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom, graduating in 1967. [4]


Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with one of the former President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, 21 September 2004 Sultan of Brunei with Hu Jintao.jpg
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with one of the former President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, 21 September 2004
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with U.S. President Barack Obama, 18 November 2015 Pres. Obama and HM Bolkiah APEC 2015.jpg
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with U.S. President Barack Obama, 18 November 2015
Hassanal Bolkiah with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, 6 October 2017 President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Attends Golden Jubilee Celebration of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's Accession to the Throne 1.jpg
Hassanal Bolkiah with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, 6 October 2017

He became the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam on 5 October 1967, after his father abdicated. His coronation was held on 1 August 1968, and made him the Yang di-Pertuan (Head of State) of Brunei. Like his father, he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, of which Brunei was a protectorate until 1984.

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. On 9 March 2006, the sultan was reported to have amended Brunei's constitution to make himself infallible under Bruneian law. [5] Bolkiah, as Prime Minister, is also the head of government. In addition, he holds the portfolios both of Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. As Minister of Defence he is therefore the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, as well as an Honorary General in the British and Indonesian armed forces and an Honorary Admiral in the Royal Navy. He appointed himself as Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Royal Brunei Police Force.[ citation needed ]

Bolkiah addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Brunei Darussalam's admission to the United Nations in September 1984. In 1991, he introduced a conservative ideology to Brunei called Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay Islamic Monarchy, MIB), which presents the monarchy as the defender of the faith. [6] He has recently favoured Brunei government democratisation and declared himself Prime Minister and President. In 2004, the Legislative Council, which had been dissolved since 1962, was reopened. [7]

Hassanal Bolkiah established the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation (YSHHB).

Hassanal Bolkiah was chairman of Summit APEC Leaders in 2000 when Brunei Darussalam hosted the summit. Hassanal Bolkiah was also the chairman of ASEAN Summit in 2013 when Brunei Darussalam hosted the summit.

Hassanal Bolkiah is Head of Religion, and Islam is the official religion of the country. Mosques, prayer halls and stations were built across the country. The sultan decreed that Islamic celebrations such as Early Years Celebration Prophet's birthday, Isra and Miraj and Nuzul Al Quran are to be celebrated on a large scale. He often attends mosques and surau throughout the country for the obligatory Friday prayers.

In 2014, Hassanal Bolkiah also advocated the adoption of Islamic sharia penalties, including that adultery is to be punished with death by stoning.

Hassanal Bolkiah also banned public celebrations of Christmas in 2015, including wearing hats or clothes that resemble Santa Claus. The ban affects only local Muslims. [8] Christians are still allowed to celebrate Christmas. According to Bruneian Bishop Cornelius Sim, on 25 December 2015, there were around estimated 4,000 out of 18,000 Bruneian Catholics, mainly Chinese and expats living in the country, attending the mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While there was no absolute ban on celebrations, there was a ban affecting Christmas decorations in public places, especially shopping malls; the ban did not affect small stores or private residences including churches.[ clarification needed ] [9]


Shannon Marketic Incident

In 1997, Shannon Marketic sued Jefri Bolkiah, Prince of Brunei and younger brother of Hassanal Bolkiah, claiming that she and other women were hired for promotional work but instead held as a "virtual prisoner", drugged and sexually abused. [10] [11] [12] [13] The sultan denied the claims. [12] Marketic's lawsuit named Miss USA 1997 Brandi Sherwood as also being a victim, however Sherwood declined to file her own lawsuit. [14] After 18 months of litigation, a judge at the US court dismissed the suit on the grounds that the sultan had sovereign immunity as head of state. [15] [16]

AMEDEO crisis

He had open disagreements with his brother, Jefri Bolkiah, who owned a network of companies and investment vehicles under the name "Amedeo" run by his son, Prince Hakim, which was used to buy the luxury goods company Asprey and build an amusement park and other projects in Brunei. [17] In July 1998 the Amedeo group collapsed under US$10 billion in debt. [18] Between 1983 and mid-1998 some US$40 billion of what were called "special transfers" were made from the accounts of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA). [19] An independent investigation was undertaken into the circumstances of these special transfers, concluding that in round figures, US$14.8 billion were paid to the accounts of Prince Jefri apart from the US$8 billion to accounts of the sultan and US$3.8 billion for Government purposes. The destination, purpose and recipients of the remaining transfers were not established. [19] Due to the secretive nature of the state and the blurred lines as to where the royal family's finances and the state finances began and ended, establishing the true course of events is very difficult. [17]

Prince Jefri was accused of misappropriating state funds to pay for his own personal investments, bought through BIA and Amedeo companies and removed from his position as head of BIA. [20] [21] In February 2000 the Bruneian government attempted to obtain a freezing order on Prince Jefri's overseas assets, which led to him countersuing in New York. [20] Following protracted negotiations a settlement agreement was signed by the Prince in May 2000, [19] the terms of which were never made public. [18] However, Prince Jefri claimed assurances were made to him by the sultan with regards to keeping certain properties to maintain his lifestyle, which BIA denied. [18] [19] In accordance with the settlement agreement signed in 2000, the prince began to return his assets to the state, including more than 500 properties, both in Brunei and abroad, about 2500 cars, 100 paintings, five boats, and nine aircraft. [18] In 2001 ten thousand lots of Prince Jefri's possessions went to auction. [22]

However, the BIA alleged that the Prince failed to uphold the agreement by failing to disclose all his accounts, and allowing money to be taken from frozen accounts, [23] and restarted legal proceedings to gain full control of the Prince's assets. After a number of appeals, [24] this finally reached the Privy Council in London, which can serve as Brunei's highest court of appeal as a result of Brunei's former protectorate status. [25] The Privy Council rejected Prince Jefri's evidence, describing his contention that the agreement allowed for him to retain a number of properties as "simply incredible", [26] and ruled in favour of the Government of Brunei and the BIA; consequently the Prince's appeal was dismissed and he was ordered to return the rest of his assets to Brunei. [19] The decision of the Privy Council did not end the litigation between Prince Jefri and the BIA. The BIA re-opened proceedings in Malaysia and the Cayman Islands, resulting in the BIA gaining control over the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and The New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan. [27]

The BIA also re-opened collateral litigation in the High Court of England and Wales. After winning before the Privy Council, the BIA asked the court to determine whether Prince Jefri should be held in contempt of court for allegedly making misstatements in his listing of assets. The contempt proceeding was scheduled for a hearing in June 2008, but the Prince did not attend, instead going to Paris. [23] [28] Judge Peter Smith did not rule on whether Prince Jefri was in contempt, but did issue a warrant for his arrest. [29] As of November 2010, the warrant still appears to be in place, meaning the Prince will be arrested if he enters the UK. [30]

As of October, 2009, Prince Jefri appears to have been allowed back to Brunei. He is not back in any official government role but retains all his royal titles and decorations and remains in the royal protocol order. He is seen at major national functions like the national teachers day celebrations, the sultan's birthday and at the National Day Celebrations. His most recent appearance was at The Legco (Legislative Council) opening ceremony in March 2012.[ citation needed ]

Anti-LGBT and death by stoning legislation

As Prime Minister, Bolkiah has spearheaded legislation that would introduce the death penalty for homosexuality and adultery, by stoning, effective from 3 April 2019. This sparked international protests. [31] The policy resulted in calls for boycotts of numerous companies owned by the Brunei Royal Family, notably the Dorchester Collection, a group of well-known hotels owned by the sultan in the US and Europe. [32]

The sultan, via his Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) owning the Dorchester Collection hotels, raised concern abroad in April 2014 by implementing the Sharia law penal code that includes death by stoning, the severing of limbs, and flogging for crimes in Brunei such as abortions, adultery, and same-sex sexual acts. None are exempted from the Sharia law regardless of the classes they are in and the laws only apply in Brunei's border. When the sultan made this announcement, George Clooney, Elton John, and Ellen DeGeneres called again for a boycott of all hotels associated with him. [33] [34] [35]

In protest, a United States national LGBT advocacy organization, the Gill Action Fund, canceled its reservation to hold a conference of major donors at the Beverly Hills Hotel and demanded a refund of its deposit. The hotel management responded by issuing a statement asserting that it does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. [36] Fashion designers Brian Atwood and Peter Som subsequently called for wider protests, urging the fashion industry to boycott all of the hotels owned by the Dorchester Collection. [37]

In January 2013, the Royal College of General Practitioners designated the sultan the first Companion of the college for services to healthcare in Brunei and abroad. [38] In April 2019, the RCGP withdrew this honour in light of new LGBT laws supported by the sultan which are not in concert with the organisation's values. [39]

Car collection controversy

The sultan once owned one of the largest private car collections in the world with about 2,500 cars [40] which his brother Jefri Bolkiah bought for himself, the sultan and other members of the royal family to entertain their car passion. The car collection and Prince Jefri's other indulgences cost billions of US dollars, and ultimately landed him in trouble and the royal family in financial crisis. The car collection was left abandoned; most of the non-garaged cars were beyond saving, the rest were auctioned. [41]

Personal life

Saleha, the Queen Consort of Brunei Queen Saleha of Brunei.jpg
Saleha, the Queen Consort of Brunei

The sultan married his first cousin and first wife, Pengiran Anak Saleha, or Princess Saleha, who later became the Raja Isteri or the Queen. His former second wife, Mariam Abdul Aziz (the former Pengiran Isteri), was a former flight attendant for the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines. He divorced her in 2003, stripping her of all her royal titles. In August 2005, her place was taken by a former Malaysian TV3 presenter, Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim, who is 33 years younger than the sultan. They divorced in 2010, and as with Mariam Abdul Aziz, the sultan stripped her of all titles, honours, and monthly allowance. The divorce was announced on Radio Television Brunei by the grand chamberlain. [42]

Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah is the current Pengiran Muda Mahkota ("crown prince") and the sultan's heir, as the eldest son of the sultan and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha. As of 2012, Hassanal Bolkiah has five sons and seven daughters with his three wives.


NameBirthMarriageTheir Children
Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak (Queen Consort) Hajah Saleha (m. 1965–present)
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah26 July 1969Y.A.M Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Di-Raja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji ‘Abdul Rahim bin Pengiran Indera Mahkota Pengiran Anak Dr. Kemaluddin Al-HajPengiran Anak Raheemah Sanaul Bolkiah
(b. 28 December 1997)
Pengiran Anak Hariisah Widadul Bolqiah
Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Raqiib
(b. 14 May 2002)
Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Haseeb
(b. 14 January 2006)
Pengiran Anak Raqeeqah Raayatul Bolqiah
(b. 16 December 2009)
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah12 October 1971
Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji (Crown Prince) Al-Muhtadee Billah 17 February 1974Y.T.M Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab-RahamanPengiran Muda Abdul Muntaqim
(b. 17 March 2007)
Pengiran Anak Muneerah Madhul Bolkiah
(b. 2 January 2011)
Pengiran Muda Muhammad Aiman
(b. 7 June 2015)
Pengiran Anak Faathimah Az-Zahraa Raihaanul Bolkiah
(b. 1 December 2017)
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah 16 March 1976Y.A.M. Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil bin Pengiran Syed Haji JaafariPengiran Anak 'Abdul Hafeez
(b. 18 March 2008)
Pengiran Anak Raihaanah Hanaa-Ul Bolqiah
(b. 6 January 2010)
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah 12 March 1980Y.A.M. Pengiran Anak Haji Mohammad Ruzaini bin Pengiran Dr. Haji Mohammad YakubPengiran Anak Muhammad Za'eem
(b. 3 August 2013)
Pengiran Anak Muhammad 'Aamir
(b. 13 February 2015)
Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Hakeem
(b. 19 February 2018)
Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Aleem
(b. 16 June 2020)
Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Malik 30 June 1983Y.A.M Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Raabiatul Adawiyyah Binti Pengiran Haji BolkiahPengiran Anak Muthee'ah Raayatul Bolqiah
(b. 2 March 2016)
Pengiran Anak Fathiyyah Rafaahul Bolqiah
(b. 10 March 2018)
Pengiran Anak Khaalishah Mishbaahul Bolqiah
(b. 5 January 2020)
Hajah Mariam (m. 1982–2003; divorced)
Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Abdul Azim 29 July 1982
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah26 September 1984
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Fadzillah Lubabul Bolkiah23 August 1985
Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Mateen 10 August 1991
Azrinaz Mazhar (m. 2005–2010; divorced) [42]
Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Wakeel1 June 2006
Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah28 January 2008

He also has 18 grandchildren. [43] [44]

Titles, styles and honours

Styles of
The Sultan of Brunei
Personal Emblem of the Sultan of Brunei.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty
Alternative styleKebawah Duli Tuan Patik

In Malay the sultan's full title is Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan dan Yang di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam. [45]

In English the translation of the full title is His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Academic honours

The sultan received an honorary doctorate at the Moscow State University for International Relations (MGIMO), 2005. [46] He previously held an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Oxford, England, which was returned on 6 May 2019 following a letter from the University (but not revoked), [47] and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, which was revoked on 17 April 2019. [48] He received an Honorary Doctorate from the Chulalongkorn University of Thailand. In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities and Culture from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia. [49] On 27 January 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the National University of Singapore. [50] On 14 April 2011, he was conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Law by King's College London. [51] The scroll for the honorary doctorate was presented by Lord Duoro, the chairman of the Council of King's College London. This honorary doctorate was rescinded in 2019 by the Fellowships and Hororary Degrees Committee at King's College London upon recommendation of the Chairman of King's College Council, The Rt Hon the Lord Geidt, in light of the sultan's willingness to inflict death by stoning and other egregious penalties upon homosexuals in Brunei. He was awarded with an honorary doctorate in philosophy and humanities on 21 April 2011 from Universitas Indonesia. [52]

Military honours

The sultan holds an honorary commission in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom as an Air Chief Marshal. [53] He is also an Honorary Admiral of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, [54] a title given to him by Queen Elizabeth II when he took the salute at the passing out parade of the 2001 summer term at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, the Royal Navy's officer-training school in the United Kingdom. He has an English residence at Binfield Manor in Berkshire.

In April 2008, he was made an honorary member of the Indonesian Satgas Atbara Special Operations Unit. He holds the rank of Honorary Colonel Commmandant of Pakistan's Special Service Group (SSG), awarded to him during his visit to the Pakistan Army's SSG headquarters at Cherat with effect from 3 Apr 2005. [55] He possesses red beret and paratrooper wings of the Black Hawk paratroopers, presented to him by the Indian Army during his state visit to India.

Honorary awards

Personal emblem of the Sultan of Brunei Personal Emblem of the Sultan of Brunei.svg
Personal emblem of the Sultan of Brunei

He has been awarded:[ citation needed ]


N.B. * decoration founded by the sultan on 1 August 1968 ; ** = decoration founded by the sultan on 15 August 1982


Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia:

Flag of Johor.svg  Johor:

Flag of Kelantan.svg  Kelantan:

Flag of Kedah.svg  Kedah :

Flag of Negeri Sembilan.svg  Negeri Sembilan:

Flag of Pahang.svg  Pahang:

Flag of Perak.svg  Perak:

Flag of Perlis.svg  Perlis:

Flag of Selangor.svg  Selangor:

Flag of Terengganu.svg  Terengganu:

Flag of Sarawak.svg  Sarawak: DUBS of Sarawak (9 March 1989)

Foreign Awards


See also

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Hassanal Bolkiah
Born: 15 July 1946
Bruneian royalty
Preceded by
Ahmad Tajuddin
Crown Prince of Brunei
Succeeded by
Al-Muhtadee Billah
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Sultan of Brunei
Heir apparent:
Al-Muhtadee Billah
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Jenny Shipley
Chairperson of APEC
Succeeded by
Jiang Zemin
Preceded by
Trần Đức Lương
Chairperson of ASEAN
Succeeded by
Hun Sen
Preceded by
Hun Sen
Chairperson of ASEAN
Succeeded by
Thein Sein
Preceded by
Bill Gates
Richest Person in the World
Succeeded by
Bill Gates