Hassanal Bolkiah Biography

Hassanal Bolkiah (Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah) is the current Sultan and prime minister of Brunei. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family, personal life, career, and achievements.

Hassanal Bolkiah
Quick Facts

Birthday: July 15, 1946

Nationality: Bruneian

Famous: Prime Ministers Male Leaders

Age: 73 Years, 73 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah

Born Country: Brunei Darussalam

Born in: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Famous as: Sultan of Brunei

Height: 1.73 m

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim (m. 2005–2010), Isteri Mariam (m. 1982–2003), Pengiran Anak Saleha (m. 1965)

father: Omar Ali Saifuddien III

mother: Rani Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit

siblings: Amal Jefriah, Amal Nasibah, Amal Rakiah, Jefri Bolkiah, Mohamed Bolkiah, Norain Bolkiah, Prince of Brunei, Princess Masna Bolkiah, Sufri Bolkiah, Umi Kalthum Al Islam

children: Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, Prince Abdul Azim, Prince Abdul Malik, Prince Abdul Mateen, Prince Abdul Wakeel, Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah, Princess Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah, Princess Fadzillah Lubabul Bolkiah, Princess Hafeezah Bolkiah, Princess Majeedah Bolkiah, Princess Muta-Wakillah Bolkiah, Princess Rashidah Bolkiah

More Facts

education: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Victoria Institution

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Hassanal Bolkiah, also known by his full name, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, is the current Sultan and prime minister of Brunei, which makes him an absolute monarch. He used the natural reserves of oil and natural gas to turn his sultanate into one of the richest and most prosperous societies in the world. Being incredibly rich himself, he is famous for his extravagant lifestyle. It seems that if his fortune continues to increase at the same pace, his son will become the world’s first trillionaire. He is also a controversial person, especially since he passed a law that allows stoning of gay people to death. He is definitely a historical figure, being the second longest-reigning current monarch after Queen Elizabeth II. In 2017, he celebrated 50 years on the throne.

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Hassanal Bolkiah
Childhood & Early Life
  • The 29th Sultan of Brunei was born on July 15, 1946, in Istana Darussalam, Brunei Town (the current Bandar Seri Begawan) and became Crown Prince. He is the eldest heir of Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien III. He attended high school at ‘Victoria Institution’ in Kuala Lumpur and then went to the UK to attend the ‘Royal Military Academy Sandhurst,’ graduating in 1967. Not much is known about his childhood, but given the fact that he was born into one of the richest families in the world, one can imagine his early years were mostly luxurious and carefree.
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Career
  • Soon after his graduation, his father abdicated. Thus, he became the Sultan on October 5, 1967. His coronation took place on August 1, 1968. As tradition demanded, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, as Brunei was a protectorate of the UK until 1984.
  • Nevertheless, his father kept making important decisions related to his kingdom over the next 10 years, until his son gained some leadership experience. However, after his mother died in 1979, his father finally retired from all public affairs, making way for the new Sultan. He started by traveling around the country to let his subjects know him and to hear their problems. Since Brunei was about to gain its independence from Britain, he began making changes, replaced British employees from the civil services with native ones, and began his fight against corruption. Despite some differences of opinions, the relations between the two states remained amicable after the British officially withdrew from Brunei.
  • One of the main aims of Hassanal Bolkiah was not to have his power contested in any way. Thus, even though the 1959 Constitution made him head of state and he had emergency powers added in 1962, on March 9, 2006, the Sultan made an amendment to the Constitution that basically made him untouchable according to the laws of Brunei. His position of the prime minister also made him the head of the government. Apart from this, he is the minister of defense and finance. He has also declared himself the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
  • In 1985, he allowed the formation of the ‘Brunei National Democratic Party.’ However, after they asked him to resign as head of state, he had the party dissolved in 1988. Freedom of expression is practically non-existent in Brunei. The press has no power, the ‘Borneo Bulletin’ being the only publication that has some freedom of speech. However, it is owned by the royal family. Apparently, the Sultan is aware that this absolute power cannot last forever. Thus, he has a strategy to gradually allow the introduction of democracy. Although, for now, it is not clear exactly how that could work.
  • Oil has been the main resource for Brunei since the 1970s and has generated a huge income for the royal family. However, the Sultan has become preoccupied with this dependence on oil. He wants to keep Brunei’s stability and is trying to make the role of Islam even stronger by enforcing the concept of “Melayu Islam Beraja” (Malay Islamic Monarchy). Nevertheless, he once stated that he would not permit extreme religious forces to influence the people of his country. He is also trying to expand the economy and make it more diverse by encouraging foreign investments. Despite all this wealth, Brunei is still facing some serious problems, such as rising crime rates, drug abuse, and few job opportunities for young people.
  • Hassanal Bolkiah is famous for enforcing some extremely brutal penalties. In 2014, he adopted the Islamic “sharia” penalties that included stoning to death as a punishment of adultery.
  • Not only is Islam the main religion in the country but the Sultan is quite a devout believer. He has built many mosques and prayer halls all over the country, and he often attends them for the mandatory Friday prayers.
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Controversy
  • As it was expected from a man so rich and powerful, there were many controversies involving him and his family. In 1997, the infamous Shannon Marketic incident took place. Allegedly, the Sultan’s brother had hired Shannon and other women for promotional work but had kept them captive and abused them instead. There was a trial, but the royal family’s immunity saved them from any repercussions.
  • The latest and perhaps the most shocking controversy involving him was related to the law the Sultan passed that stated that homosexuals must receive the death penalty. More exactly, he allowed stoning to death all citizens found to be members of the LGBT community. There was a huge wave of protests against this measure, but the official response was that the Sultan did not expect other countries to agree with his measures expected them to respect the rules of his land.
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Family & Personal Life
  • The Sultan married Pengiran Anak Saleha, one of his cousins. Theirs was a marriage arranged by their parents. Then, in 1981, he married his second wife, a former stewardess named Mariam Bell. His father did not agree with this marriage, especially since the bride was not of noble descent. They were married for over 20 years and had two sons and two daughters. Soon, rumors surfaced that things were not perfect. The news of their divorce was released by the Sultan’s brother, Prince Sufri. In spite of facing the plight of losing all her royal titles after the end of the marriage, things did not look too bad for Mariam, as it was going to be the world’s largest divorce settlement.
  • The eldest son of Hassanal Bolkiah and the Queen consort of Brunei, Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, is the current Crown Prince and the Sultan’s heir.
Top
Family & Personal Life
  • The Sultan married Pengiran Anak Saleha, one of his cousins. Theirs was a marriage arranged by their parents. Then, in 1981, he married his second wife, a former stewardess named Mariam Bell. His father did not agree with this marriage, especially since the bride was not of noble descent. They were married for over 20 years and had two sons and two daughters. Soon, rumors surfaced that things were not perfect. The news of their divorce was released by the Sultan’s brother, Prince Sufri. In spite of facing the plight of losing all her royal titles after the end of the marriage, things did not look too bad for Mariam, as it was going to be the world’s largest divorce settlement.
  • The eldest son of Hassanal Bolkiah and the Queen consort of Brunei, Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, is the current Crown Prince and the Sultan’s heir.
Top
Controversy
  • As it was expected from a man so rich and powerful, there were many controversies involving him and his family. In 1997, the infamous Shannon Marketic incident took place. Allegedly, the Sultan’s brother had hired Shannon and other women for promotional work but had kept them captive and abused them instead. There was a trial, but the royal family’s immunity saved them from any repercussions.
    Continue Reading Below
  • The latest and perhaps the most shocking controversy involving him was related to the law the Sultan passed that stated that homosexuals must receive the death penalty. More exactly, he allowed stoning to death all citizens found to be members of the LGBT community. There was a huge wave of protests against this measure, but the official response was that the Sultan did not expect other countries to agree with his measures expected them to respect the rules of his land.
Top
Career
  • Soon after his graduation, his father abdicated. Thus, he became the Sultan on October 5, 1967. His coronation took place on August 1, 1968. As tradition demanded, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, as Brunei was a protectorate of the UK until 1984.
  • Nevertheless, his father kept making important decisions related to his kingdom over the next 10 years, until his son gained some leadership experience. However, after his mother died in 1979, his father finally retired from all public affairs, making way for the new Sultan. He started by traveling around the country to let his subjects know him and to hear their problems. Since Brunei was about to gain its independence from Britain, he began making changes, replaced British employees from the civil services with native ones, and began his fight against corruption. Despite some differences of opinions, the relations between the two states remained amicable after the British officially withdrew from Brunei.
  • One of the main aims of Hassanal Bolkiah was not to have his power contested in any way. Thus, even though the 1959 Constitution made him head of state and he had emergency powers added in 1962, on March 9, 2006, the Sultan made an amendment to the Constitution that basically made him untouchable according to the laws of Brunei. His position of the prime minister also made him the head of the government. Apart from this, he is the minister of defense and finance. He has also declared himself the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
  • In 1985, he allowed the formation of the ‘Brunei National Democratic Party.’ However, after they asked him to resign as head of state, he had the party dissolved in 1988. Freedom of expression is practically non-existent in Brunei. The press has no power, the ‘Borneo Bulletin’ being the only publication that has some freedom of speech. However, it is owned by the royal family. Apparently, the Sultan is aware that this absolute power cannot last forever. Thus, he has a strategy to gradually allow the introduction of democracy. Although, for now, it is not clear exactly how that could work.
  • Oil has been the main resource for Brunei since the 1970s and has generated a huge income for the royal family. However, the Sultan has become preoccupied with this dependence on oil. He wants to keep Brunei’s stability and is trying to make the role of Islam even stronger by enforcing the concept of “Melayu Islam Beraja” (Malay Islamic Monarchy). Nevertheless, he once stated that he would not permit extreme religious forces to influence the people of his country. He is also trying to expand the economy and make it more diverse by encouraging foreign investments. Despite all this wealth, Brunei is still facing some serious problems, such as rising crime rates, drug abuse, and few job opportunities for young people.
  • Hassanal Bolkiah is famous for enforcing some extremely brutal penalties. In 2014, he adopted the Islamic “sharia” penalties that included stoning to death as a punishment of adultery.
  • Not only is Islam the main religion in the country but the Sultan is quite a devout believer. He has built many mosques and prayer halls all over the country, and he often attends them for the mandatory Friday prayers.
Top
Childhood & Early Life
  • The 29th Sultan of Brunei was born on July 15, 1946, in Istana Darussalam, Brunei Town (the current Bandar Seri Begawan) and became Crown Prince. He is the eldest heir of Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien III. He attended high school at ‘Victoria Institution’ in Kuala Lumpur and then went to the UK to attend the ‘Royal Military Academy Sandhurst,’ graduating in 1967. Not much is known about his childhood, but given the fact that he was born into one of the richest families in the world, one can imagine his early years were mostly luxurious and carefree.
Top

See the events in life of Hassanal Bolkiah in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Hassanal Bolkiah Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/hassanal-bolkiah-40994.php
Last Updated
- August 23, 2019

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