The party-loving son of the Sultan of Brunei has died aged 38 after prolonged treatment for a serious illness, state media has announced.
Prince Azim, the Sultan’s sixth child and fourth in line to the throne, died in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan around 10am on Saturday.
In keeping with Islamic tradition, his funeral was held the same day before seven days of national mourning were declared, during which celebrations are banned.
While the exact cause of Azim’s death was not made clear, some reports suggested he had been suffering from cancer.
Known as a member of the international jet-set, Azim was often pictured rubbing shoulders with celebrities at lavish parties in Europe and the US.
Prince Azim, the 38-year-old son of the Sultan of Brunei (pictured left with Mischa Barton and right with Scarlett Johansson, both in 2005) has died at the age of 38
Azim passed away Saturday morning in the capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan, and was buried the same evening in a ceremony attended by his father
Fantastically wealthy, Azim’s net worth was estimated to be $5billion at the time of his death, according to Media, Entertainment and Arts Worldwide.
Michael Jackson, Pamela Anderson and Joan Collins were all photographed alongside the prince over the years, including at his 30th birthday bash.
Other celebrity pals included Mischa Barton and Scarlett Johansson.
Azim also formed a friendship with the late reality TV star Jade Goody, who once described him as a ‘brilliant mate’.
The Prince gifted Jade a ring as a ‘token of friendship’ which she claimed was worth around £3 million, although experts later put its worth at around £30,000.
He also hosted parties attended by a number of gay and transgender rights advocates, including the likes of Caitlyn Jenner, Mariah Carey and skier Gus Kenworthy, who is openly gay.
Azim’s open support for the LGBT community led to rumours that he was also gay, though he never openly discussed his sexuality.
His stance drew particular attention in 2019, when his father Hassanal Bolkiah announced a new law that could have seen gay people stoned to death.
The rule outlawed gay sex, which had to be independently witnessed in order to secure a conviction.
Bolkiah said at the time that the law was part of a drive for ‘stronger’ Islamic teachings in his tiny Australasian nation, located on the island of Borneo.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attends his son’s funeral, before announcing seven days of mourning that bans entertainments
Prince Azim (left with Pamela Anderson and right with Joan Collins) was known as a supporter of the LGBT community, as well as children’s charities
But following international outcry, Bolkiah ruled that a moratorium on the death penalty in Brunei should be extended to the new law.
It means that, while the penalty for gay sex is still officially death by stoning, the Sultan has agreed not to use it. Brunei has not hosted a public execution since 1957.
An announcement of the Prince’s death said that wedding and birthday parties will still be permitted during the mourning period, though entertainments at the events will be banned.
Rumours that citizens will be ordered to wear white armbands or white clothing – the colour of mourning – during the week are untrue, the statement said.
Flags were flown at half-mast on the day of the Prince’s death, it added.
Azim was born on July 29, 1982 in the capital of Brunei – sixth child and second son of Sultan Bolkiah, who was born to his second wife Hajah Mariam.
The prince studied at the International School Brunei, the government said, before going on to the Raffles Institution in Singapore and UK’s Oxford Brookes University.
Azim was known at home as a filmmaker, designer and philanthropist who raised money for terminally ill children and those with autism.
He never married, and does not leave behind any children.