H.M The Sultan’s Birthday is celebrated in Brunei on July 15 every year. However, the celebrations do not end in just a day. Preparations begin much earlier. The actual event goes on for at least two weeks. There’s a series of ceremonies and parties for guests to delight in. The royal palace lights up — welcoming people from all over the country to join in the celebrations. So well-known is this party that people from around the globe flock to Brunei to be a part of this celebration.
History of H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu)
July 15 commemorates the birth of Hassan Al Bolkiah, the 29th sultan of Brunei. He was born to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit in 1946. His Majesty The Sultan is part of a lineage that goes back to the 14th century. The Sultan has been holding the reins of his kingdom since 1967 when his father decided to renounce the throne. He ascended the throne as a 15-year-old. His birthday is a national holiday ever since. He was at a time the wealthiest person in the world. He is the second-longest currently reigning monarch.
The public observes the day by attending mass prayers. Then the monarch delivers a royal address followed by a crowning ceremony. The gates to the palace are opened to the public on all days of the celebration. Tourists from across the globe fly to Brunei to observe and attend this grand party. No one’s allowed to carry smartphones or cameras inside the premises. Besides that, all guests are expected to be clothed in body-covering suits and closed shoes or sandals. He tours his provinces so that the whole nation participates in his celebrations.
The most lavish birthday celebration of H.M. The Sultan took place in 1996 in honor of his 50th birthday. It has gone down in history as one of the most expensive parties ever. This was a two-week affair featuring a private Michael Jackson concert and a special polo match with Prince Charles. There was also a grand buffet for 3,000 guests who were treated with caviar and free-flowing champagne. No guest at his party left home empty-handed. Each one was gifted a gold medal. This Golden Jubilee is definitely memorable.
H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu) timeline
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, is born.
Hassanal Bolkiah ascends the throne as The Sultan of Brunei.
The Sultan becomes the Prime Minister of Brunei after gaining independence from the U.K.
The Sultan completes 50 years of reign.
H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu) FAQs
Is H.M. The Sultan’s Birthday a public holiday?
Yes, offices, schools, and businesses stay closed on the Sultan’s birthday.
Who is the Sultan’s successor?
The Sultan’s 10th son, Prince Mateen, is reportedly going to succeed him.
What does the word ‘sultan’ mean?
‘Sultan’ is an Arabic word that means the ruler of a Muslim sovereign state.
H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu) Activities
Eat, drink, make merry
The Sultan’s birthday isn’t a single-day affair. It’s more like a festival that goes on for a week. So with your next birthday, follow the example set and celebrate more than one day with interesting parties.
Witness the military parade
You’re lucky if you happen to be in Brunei during the Sultan’s birthday. There’s an enjoyable military parade where officers march past to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ and complete the affair with gunshots and fireworks. It’s not always that you get to watch a royal birthday parade!
Live the royal life
Whether you’re a foreigner or a local, you are allowed to enter the royal premises on the Sultan’s birthday. You’ll not only be served unlimited food and drinks, but you will also get to meet the monarch personally.
5 Facts About The Sultan’s Birthday
What an extravaganza
Michael Jackson received 17 million U.S.D. to perform on the Sultan's 50th birthday.
Parade of Honor
A parade takes place in honor of the Sultan.
The Sultan owns 7,000 luxury cars, worth $5 billion.
One man show
The Sultan isn’t just Brunei’s monarch, but also the country’s P.M, finance minister, defense minister, foreign affairs minister, trade minister, and commander of the armed forces.
The Sultan spends close to $20,000 for a single haircut.
Why We Love H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu)
It’s no less than a spectacle
The Sultan’s birthday is celebrated with much pomp and splendor. From military parades to fireworks at night, this day is treated as an annual festival in Brunei.
Free ticket to a grand party
The Sultan’s birthday celebrations are open to locals and tourists alike. You can experience luxurious treatment at the world’s largest residential palace. What more can you ask of a birthday party?
A chance to see the Sultan
The Sultan holds a public meet-and-greet session with his subjects on his birthday. This is where you get to see him in person.
H.M. The Sultan's Birthday (in lieu) dates