A Bruneian Prince Has Died at Age 38 Under Mysterious Circumstances

Brunei is now in a state-declared period of national mourning for the loss of Prince Azim. Celebrities and world leaders also paid tribute.
October 26, 2020, 8:13am
Brunei, Prince Azim
Mariah Carey and Prince Azim in London. Photo: Phil Dent/Redferns

A 38-year-old prince from oil-rich Brunei who was known for hosting glittering parties and rubbing shoulders with celebrities in the world's fashion and entertainment scenes has died under circumstances that remain unclear.

Palace officials in the Islamic sultanate declared a seven-day period of national mourning after Prince Haji "Abdul" Azim's death on Saturday, Oct. 24. The cause has not been disclosed but local media reports said the young royal had been in hospital "for quite some time."

Located in Southeast Asia, Brunei is an absolute monarchy and the royal family is extremely rich thanks to vast natural resources, particularly oil reserves. Azim was the second-born son of Brunei leader Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the head of government and one of the wealthiest and longest reigning monarchs in the world.

Fourth in line for the throne, Azim attended top schools in Singapore and the United Kingdom - including a short stint at the military academy Sandhurst -  and drifted into the world of film and high-profile philanthropy, reportedly holding lavish birthday parties and befriending A-list celebrities like Mariah Carey ad Naomi Campbell.

Superstar singer Janet Jackson paid tribute to the late prince and shared a post on her Instagram account. "Azeem, I love you too and Inshallah no more pain," she said.

Southeast Asian leaders also offered their condolences. "He will be remembered for his passion for the arts and kindness to the needy," Singapore's president Halimah Yacob wrote in a public letter. On behalf of the Malaysian government, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement on Facebook: "May his soul be blessed by Allah and placed among the righteous," he said.

A Singaporean engineer named Luke Francisco said he attended school with the prince in 2003. "He was famous right from the start and was accompanied by his bodyguards everywhere he went but I remember him as being the most down to earth guy who enjoyed sports, music and the company of friends. He would often throw private parties for our classmates," he told VICE News.

Brunei's ruling royal family wields great influence in the country and many hold positions in government. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has amassed a dizzying array of titles and overseas properties, luxury goods and stunning wealth estimated to be worth more than $28 billion.

Members of Azim's family, state dignitaries and cabinet ministers attended the prince's funeral and burial ceremony over the weekend.