BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 August, 1998, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Royal riches and family embarrassment
Picture of the prince
Pictures of the prince decorate Brunei's roadsides
The grand proclamation ceremony of Brunei's prince Al-Muhtadee Billah will be held in the royal family's recently completed 1,788-room palace.

The 24-year-old eldest son of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, will receive a broad, jewelled, traditional Malay knife, called the Kris, from his father, ensuring his future right to ascend to the all-powerful throne.

The prince is heir to the family vast fortune, which includes 350 Rolls Royce cars.

jacko
The Sultan's family were entertained by Michael Jackson at a private function
There are also 200 polo ponies in climatised stables, two Boeings, an Airbus, six smaller planes and two helicopters.

When the family entertains, they call on the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Celine Dionne to sing a song or two for their guests.

Never short of a few pennies for a rainy day, the Sultan was reported in Australian newspapers as having gone on a $2.9bn spending spree in March this year.

He was said to have bought, amongst other things, one of the futuristic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Patient prince

crown prince of Brunei
The crown prince developing a taste for helicopters in his earlier years
The prince is the third child of the monarch.

Two older daughters are ineligible for the crown because women aren't allowed to rule.

Analysts in Brunei say Sultan Hassanal, who came to power at the tender age of 21, is unlikely to abdicate any time soon even though his son is being increasingly exposed to state functions after a two-year stint at Britain's distinguished Oxford University.

Family divisions

But not all is well in the royal family. The sultan's brother, Prince Jefri, who lives in self-imposed exile somewhere in Europe, has become a major embarrassment and strain on the kingdom.

Family's recently completed 1,788-room palace
Family's recently completed 1,788-room palace
Prince Jefri is alleged to have squandered billions of dollars in bad business deals.

He was in charge of the telecommunications conglomerate Amedeo when it collapsed with losses estimated at $16bn. The sultan moved quickly to strip his brother of control of the company and his position as chief of the Brunei Investment Agency, which is responsible for overseas investments.

And stories of his wild orgies and extravagances have dented the sultan's attempts to portray a clean Islamic image of the family that has ruled Brunei for four centuries.

But Prince Jefri has charged that he is the victim of a plot by Moslem conservatives who have gained an "unhealthy influence" over the sultan, a claim rejected by government officials who said the ruler had moved swiftly to put things in order.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes