Brunei ruler divorces Malaysian wife

June 16, 2010BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, June 16 — Brunei’s sultan announced today he is divorcing his Malaysian wife after five years of marriage.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the 63-year-old absolute monarch of this tiny, oil-rich country on Borneo island, married Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim, a former TV3 news journalist, in 2005.

Azrinaz (left), 30, gave birth to the sultan’s 11th child, a baby boy, less than a year after their wedding and a daughter in 2008.

Brunei’s palace announced on state television and radio late today that the sultan has divorced Azrinaz and revoked all her royal titles.

No other details were made available, but rumours of a royal breakup had been circulating in Brunei.

This is the second divorce for the sultan, whose private fortune has been estimated to total at least US$20 billion (RM65 billion) in recent years. He broke up with former airline stewardess Mariam Abdul Aziz, who is of Bruneian, Japanese and Scottish ancestry, in February 2003 after 21 years of marriage.

He remains married to his first wife, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, whom he wed in 1967. Their son, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, is heir to the throne.

The sultan ascended to the throne on Oct. 5, 1967, after his father abdicated.

The sultan’s wealth is legendary. While playing polo with Britain’s Prince Charles, he once had his polo shoes delivered — by helicopter — to the palace field

In 2005, the couple confessed that it was love at first sight despite a 32 year age gap.

The Sultan fell in love with the award winning journalist when she went to Brunei two years ago on a news assignment, and from then on, “he kept watching her read the news on TV3,” according to a close friend of the bride.

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