Hassanal Bolkiah

Hassanal Bolkiah
Hassanal Bolkiah
Sultan of Brunei
Reign 4 October 1967 – present
Coronation 1 August 1968
Predecessor Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Heir apparent Al-Muhtadee Billah
Spouse Anak Saleha (1965–present)
Isteri Mariam (Divored 2003)
Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim
Al-Muhtadee Billah
'Abdul Malik
Abdul Mateen
'Abdul Wakeel
House Istana Nurul Iman
Born 15 July 1946 (1946-07-15) (age 65)
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Religion Sunni Islam

General Haji Sir Hassan al-Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah GCB GCMG (born 15 July 1946) is the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the 29th Sultan of Brunei and the first Prime Minister of Brunei Darussalam. He is the eldest son of Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, and Pengiran Anak Damit.


Political role as Sultan

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with President of People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao

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 changed Brunei's constitution to make himself infallible under Bruneian law.[1] Bolkiah is also the Prime Minister as well as holding the portfolios of Minister of Defence and Finance.

As Minister of Defence he is also the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces; an Honorary General in the British and Indonesian armed forces and an Honorary Admiral of the Fleet in the British Navy. He appointed himself as Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

He 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 (MIB) (or Malay Islamic Monarchy), which presents the monarchy as the defender of the faith.[2] 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.[3]

His designated successor is his eldest son, Al-Muhtadee Billah.

Early years and education

He was born on 15 July 1946 in Brunei Town (now called Bandar Seri Begawan). He became crown prince in 1961 and sultan on 5 October 1967, after his father abdicated voluntarily. His coronation was held on 1 August 1968. Like his father, he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, of which Brunei was a protectorate until 1984.

The Sultan received high school education in Malaysia's premier school Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, where he joined the Cadet Corps (band). After receiving a private education in Brunei, the Sultan attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in October 1967 but returned home to be the Crown Prince few months before graduation.

Other assets

Despite his personal extravagance, he has attempted to share the country's oil wealth. In Brunei, mockingly dubbed the "Shellfare State", a reference to the significant influence of the Shell Oil Company,[4][5] Bruneians have free education and medical services. There are no personal income taxes in Brunei.

His official residence is the Istana Nurul Iman, with 1,888 rooms, 290 bathrooms, and a floor area of 2,152,782 sq ft (200,000 m²), controversially claims to be “world’s largest working palace”. The Istana is an official residence with offices housing the Offices of the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, Grand Chamberlain's office, many istana departments like protocol, istana household and finance departments and offices of the Prime Minister's Department. Parts of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance are also located at the palace, as the Sultan is the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. The Crown Prince, who is the Senior Minister, also works from offices at the Istana. Hyatt Borneo Management Services and HM The Sultan's flight also maintain offices there.

The Sultan is the owner of 531 Mercedes-Benzes, 367 Ferraris, 362 Bentleys, 185 BMWs, 177 Jaguars, 160 Porsches, 130 Rolls-Royces and 20 Lamborghinis, bringing the total number of cars he owns to 5000.

Marriage and children

The Sultan currently has one wife, with Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha being designated his first wife. His former second wife, Pengiran Isteri Hajah Mariam, was a former stewardess for the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) whom he divorced 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.[6]

Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah is the crown prince and the Sultan's heir, the eldest son of the Sultan and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, his first wife. As of 2008, Hassanal Bolkiah has five sons and seven daughters with his three wives.[7]

  • By HM Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha:
  • By HRH Pengiran Isteri Mariam (married 1982, divorced in 2003):
    • HRH Prince 'Abdul 'Azim (born 29 July 1982)
    • HRH Princess 'Azemah (born 26 September 1984)
    • HRH Princess Fadzillah (born 23 August 1985)
    • HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen (born 10 August 1991)
  • By HRH Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim (married 2005, divorced in 2010):
    • HRH Prince 'Abdul Wakeel (born 1 June 2006)
    • HRH Princess Ameerah (born 28 January 2008)


Between 2001 and 2005 a UK businessman, Mark Burby, was defrauded by two members of the Brunei royal family, Pengiran Ayub (the Sultan's cousin) and Pengiran Damit (the Sultan's sister-in-law).[8] The case went to trial, and the Brunei Royals were ordered to pay over £50M of lost earning to Burby.[8] After the judgement, Burby went to work for a more-senior Brunei Royal on the understanding that the Sultan would ensure that the debt was paid. As of July 2009, the debt remains unpaid.[8]

In 1997, former Miss USA Shannon Marketic filed a lawsuit against the ruling family of Brunei for $90 million.[9] In the case, Marketic alleged that she and 6 other young women were paid $127,200 each for a modeling job in Brunei (whereas on the ABC news program 20/20, Marketic said she was supposed to provide "intellectual conversations" with visiting guests of the royal family). These other women include former Miss Teen USA and future Miss USA Brandi Sherwood, who was invited along by Shannon, and Miss United Kingdom runner up Paula Bradbury.

Marketic maintained that she and Stephanie Granton were held as "sex slaves" at the Sultan's palace and were "intimidated and coerced into performing physically and morally repulsive acts of prostitution."[10] They were allegedly expected to dance at nightly parties during which they were groped and grabbed by men, one of whom was the Sultan's son, Prince Azim. During the dances Marketic was also allegedly abused verbally with comments made about her bare breasts.[11] The women were often told to go with a man to have "tea" with him, and then had sex with him.[12] In her interview on 20/20, Marketic said that after 32 days, she had a letter sent to the US Embassy; shortly afterwards, she was paid $10,000 by the ruling family and flown back to the United States.[9] The case was thrown out due to the immunity of the ruling family as heads of state.[12] There has been no further investigation into this case although there are allegations both supporting and refuting her claims. Paula Bradbury separately sued the Sultan and won £500,000 in settlement.[13]

Titles, styles and honours


The style and title of the Sultan is full is His Majesty 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 Negara Brunei Darussalam.[14]

Academic honours

The Sultan received an honorary doctorate from a Russian university.[15]

He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Oxford, England, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. 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, Republic of Indonesia.[16] On 27 January 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the National University of Singapore.[17]

On 14 April 2011, he was conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Law by King's College London.[18] The scroll for the honorary doctorate was presented by Lord Duoro, the chairman of the Council of King's College London. He was awarded with an honorary doctorate in philoposhy and humanities on 21 April 2011 from Universitas Indonesia, one of the oldest universities in Asia having been established 160 years ago.[19]

Military honours

The Sultan holds an honorary commission in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom as an Air Marshal.[20] He is also an Honorary Admiral of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom,[21] 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 of Pakistan's Special Service Group (SSG), awarded to him during his visit to the Pakistan Army's SSG headquarters at Cherat.[22]

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.

See also


  1. ^ Sultan of Brunei Declares Himself Infallible, Hello, 9 March 2006.
  2. ^ "Country profile: Brunei". BBC News. 21 January 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1298607.stm. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Sultan of Brunei reopens parliament". BBC News. 25 September 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3688860.stm. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  4. ^ http://www.inspirationthroughexploration.com/TravelBrunei.html
  5. ^ http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Brunei/Bandar-Seri-Begawan/blog-132239.html
  6. ^ Brunei's sultan divorces Malaysian wife of 5 years
  7. ^ Royal Family of Brunei Birthday and Anniversary wishes – The Royal Forums
  8. ^ a b c "Search results for 'Mark Burby'". The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sitesearch.do?x=38&y=5&query=Mark+Burby&turnOffGoogleAds=false&submitStatus=searchFormSubmitted&mode=simple&sectionId=674. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  9. ^ a b News Home
  10. ^ The Smoking Gun: Archive for the Sultan, p.9
  11. ^ The Smoking Gun: Archive for the Sultan, p.7
  12. ^ a b News article,[dead link] E! Online.
  13. ^ Smith, Kevin. "BRIT BEAUTY SEX SLAVE WINS pounds 1/2m FROM SULTAN'S BROTHER". The People (London, England), republished at HighBeam.com, 9 August 1998.
  14. ^ "Prime Minister". Prime Minister's Office of Brunei. http://www.jpm.gov.bn/. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  15. ^ "H. Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei". Klosi News. 21 February 2010. http://www.klosi.org/news/klosi_news_vip/995.html. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  16. ^ http://www.rtb.gov.bn/NewsUpdate/2003/April03/100403/main1.htm
  17. ^ http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/pressrel/0501/050127.htm
  18. ^ "Honorary doctorate for Sultan". The Brunei Times. 15 April 2011. http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2011/04/15/honorary-doctorate-sultan-prince-abdul-azim-launches-uk-hotel-owned-brunei. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Indonesia varsity to confer honorary doctorate on HM". The Brunei Times. 17 April 2011. http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2011/04/17/indonesia-varsity-confer-honorary-doctorate-hm. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  20. ^ The Air Force List, 2006. HMSO ISBN 0-11-773038-6
  21. ^ Navy List
  22. ^ Sultan of Brunei made honorary colonel, Dawn, 20 May 2004.

External links

Hassanal Bolkiah
Born: 15 July 1946
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Sultan of Brunei
Heir apparent:
Al-Muhtadee Billah
Bruneian royalty
Preceded by
Ahmad Tajuddin
Crown Prince of Brunei
Succeeded by
Al-Muhtadee Billah
Preceded by
Bill Gates
Richest Person in the World
Succeeded by
Bill Gates

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  • Bolkiah Mu'izzadin Waddaulah — /ˈbɒlkiə muˈɪzadɪn wadaˈʊlə/ (say bolkeeuh mooh izahdin wahdah ooluh) noun Sir Muda Hassanal, born 1946; became sultan of Brunei in 1967 …   Australian-English dictionary

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