Ahmad Tajuddin

Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien (Jawi: أحمد تاج الدين اعكاظ الخير والدين; August 22, 1913 – June 4, 1950) was the 27th Sultan of Brunei from 11 September 1924 until his death. After his death in 1950, he was then succeeded by his younger brother Omar Ali Saifuddien.

Ahmad Tajuddin
Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien.jpg
Portrait of Ahmad Tajuddin in 1934
27th Sultan of Brunei
Reign11 September 1924 – 4 June 1950
Coronation17 March 1940
PredecessorMuhammad Jamalul Alam II
SuccessorOmar Ali Saifuddien III
BornAhmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien
22 August 1913
Istana Pekan, Brunei Town, Brunei
Died4 June 1950 (aged 37)
Singapore General Hospital, Colony of Singapore
Kubah Makam Di Raja, Brunei Town, Brunei
Kadayang Amas

Hajah Raihani
(m. 1934)
IssuePrincess Siti Saerah
Princess Siti Zubaidah
Princess Siti Halimah
Princess Nor Ehsani
Sultan Sir Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien ibni Sultan Sir Muhammad Jamalul Alam II
FatherMuhammad Jamalul Alam II
MotherPengiran Anak Fatimah

His reign represented the start of a new era in Brunei. The discovery of oil changed the whole course of Brunei's history and enabled faster development in all sectors of the country. The expansion and improvement of formal education and his encouragement of religious education were some of his additional contributions to Brunei Darussalam. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, it destroyed all the development and infrastructure he has worked on and fought for a quarter of a century.

Early life and educationEdit

Ahmad Tajuddin was born on 22 August 1913 at Istana Pekan in Brunei Town. He was the surviving eldest son to Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II and his wife, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Siti Fatimah, after his older brother, Pengiran Muda Bongsu had died in 1910. His younger brother, Pengiran Muda Tengah Omar Ali Saifuddien succeeded him after his death. Before becoming the sultan, he was known as Pengiran Muda Besar Ahmad Tajuddin.[1]

He received his early education in the palace prior attending formal school. One of the teachers who had been assigned to teach him was Cikgu Salleh Haji Masri.[1] Salleh Haji Masri was one of the famous freedom fighters with anti-colonial sentiments.[2] Ahmad Tajuddin sailed for England, United Kingdom in 1932. Before that, he had learned English from Mr. H.F. Stalley. He was in England for a year to learn the English language and a description of the western civilisation.[3] He was the first Sultan in history to explore the western world more than his father, who had only sailed to Singapore and Labuan.[4]


Early reignEdit

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin ascended the throne on 11 September 1924, after the death of his father, Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II. Due to his young age of 11, the reign was temporarily held by a Council of Regency which consisted of Pengiran Bendahara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman and Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohammad Yassin from 11 September 1924 to 19 September 1931.[5] After Brunei first exported oil in 1931, British residents began to settle into Brunei.[6]

The relationship between the Sultan and the British soured when John Graham Black was appointed as the British Resident in 1937. The resident attempted to postpone and sabotage Ahmad Tajuddin's coronation ceremony which infuriated the Sultan. this caused the resident to be replaced by Ernest Edgar Pengilly on 1 January 1940. Due to the frustration that Graham Black had caused, he was not given a farewell ceremony by the Sultan as he usually did for other residents.[7]

Ahmad Tajuddin and his family began to feel uneasy with the out benefiting distribution of Brunei's wealth from oil exports and due to that reason, he encouraged the British government to ease financial regulations for the people of Brunei. In an attempt to suppress the Sultan, his living allowance was raised from $1,000 to $1,500 in 1934, and again was again given an increase of $500 a month in 1938. The Government of the United Kingdom gifted him a car in 1939.[1]

The coronation of Ahmad Tajuddin as Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan Negara was held on 17 March 1940. Before that, he recited the Qur'an at the Istana Mahkota on 9 November 1939. In conjunction with his coronation ceremony, King George VI bestowed on him the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG). Since the 1940s, the Sultan has not attended the State Assembly as a sign of protest against the British resident.[8] He urged the British to accept Bruneians into higher positions of the Brunei Administrative Service (BAS) in order to train and give experiences to local population. For the first time ever in 1941, 25 locals have been appointed to serve in the government bureaucracy.[9]

Second World WarEdit

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin together with his wife and party in a perahu after their journey from the village of Tantaya in 1945, whence they fled during the bombing of Brunei.
Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and members of his court on 20 April 1941

With the likelihood of war with the Empire of Japan increasing, in 1941, the British began to encourage the establishment of local defence forces in Brunei, and neighbouring Sarawak and Borneo. Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin approved the establishment of the Brunei Volunteer Force and Special Police Force to assist the British in stopping the Japanese invasion of Brunei. An estimated 200 Bruneians initially volunteered, but by the time of the invasion few remained and no Allied troops were stationed in Brunei. The Sultan was appointed an Honorary Colonel of the force.[10]

After the surrender to the Japanese in December 1941, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was forced to hand over his powers to the Imperial Japanese Army. The Japanese continued to recognise the Sultan as the head of the Islamic religion and the Royal Customs so long as he co-operated with them. He was advised by the Japanese to retire and offered a monthly pension together with medals of honour from the Emperor of Japan.[11]

By mid-1945, the Japanese were facing defeat and their forces in Brunei were becoming more violent in their actions toward the populace. Locals were threatened by food shortage during the occupation. A plan was made to save the Sultan and the royal family from the increasing Japanese war crimes. Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and the royal family, together with loyal palace officials, were hidden by Kasim bin Tamin, the village headman of Tantaya.[12]

Istana Tantaya had been built in Kampong Tantaya and the Sultan lived there for about three months until Brunei was liberated by the Australian Army.[12] After the Japanese surrender, the Sultan and the royal family returned to Brunei Town from Tantaya on Thursday at about 3:00 am. He was immediately taken to the British Army Headquarters at Bubungan Dua Belas. From here, he went to Istana Parit.

Later reignEdit

Due to the ever rising tension between the Sultan and the British resident, High Commissioner's Secretary Eric Ernest Falk Pretty was sent to defuse the situation.[13] In August 1948, Mr Pretty was reappointed as a resident in an attempt to repair the relationship with the Malay states including Brunei.[14] He recommended the Sultan to write a letter to the Secretary of State in hopes of the British government paying more attention to hardship and difficulties faced by Brunei. Mr Pretty also made an effort to build the Sultan a new palace after the previous was destroyed in the war.[1]

It was during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin that saw Brunei Darussalam having its own national anthem "Allah Peliharakan Sultan", which is the likeness of "God Save the King" in England. In 1947, the national anthem was composed by Awang Haji Besar bin Sagap and lyrics written by Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohammad Yusuf bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim.[15] That same year, he bestowed the title "Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara" to his brother, Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien.[16]

Ahmad Tajuddin initially refused to celebrate his Silver Jubilee as a sign of protest against the residency after William John Peel refused to build a new palace.[17] He was finally persuaded by Haji Mustafa and Malcolm MacDonald to return to Brunei and celebrate at Istana Kecil on 22 September 1949.[18][19] Prior to his death, he holds a living allowance of $3,500 a month.[1]

Illness and deathEdit

When Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin made a stopover in Singapore en route to the United Kingdom to revise the 1906 Agreement on raising oil royalties, he fell ill and was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital on 3 June 1950.[20] He arrived at the hospital and later passed away from a haemorrhage.[21]

When news of his death spread, the Crown Prince of Johore, Tengku Ismail went to Singapore General Hospital, to bring the body of the late sultan to Istana Besar, Johore Bahru.[22] In Johore Bahru, his body was washed and covered with white cloth by Syed Salim bin Syed Hasan, the Chief Qadhi of Johore while the funeral prayer, led by the Mufti of Johore, Syed Alwi Al-Hadad. Upon completion of his funeral, his body was laid in state at the foyer of the Grand Palace of Johore Bahru, to provide opportunities for national dignitaries, senior government officials and local community leaders from different ethnic and religious, to pay their respects to the late monarch and send their condolences to his wife.[23] Malcolm MacDonald brought a wreath and attended the funeral on 4 June 1950.[24]

On 5 June 1950, his coffin was taken to Kallang Airport to be flown to Labuan by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Douglas C-47 Dakota, accompanied by his wife and the royal family. Before the plane took off to Labuan, many national dignitaries and foreign ambassadors, present at the Airport, to pay their respects to the late king. Among them were;[22]

As soon as the plane that carried his coffin arrived at Labuan Airport, it was met with a parade of honour, composed of members of the Labuan Police Force to pay their respects to the late Sultan. His coffin was then taken to the Labuan Jetty to be brought to the Customs Wharf in Brunei by ship.[22]

When the ship carrying his coffin arrived in Brunei Town, it was greeted by the Royal Family, State Dignitaries, VIPs, senior government officials, and the people in attendance. His coffin was then taken to the Istana Mahkota with special vehicles. His coffin was then laid in the General Office of the Government of Brunei.[22]

Before the interment ceremony, on 6 June 1950, his brother, Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien, was installed as the 28th Sultan of Brunei. The coffin was carried out of the Palace and headed to the Royal Mausoleum, accompanied by his younger brother, the new sultan, the royal family, dignitaries of the country, and the people, to be laid to rest at the Royal Mausoleum. His Highness was laid to rest beside his father, Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II and his grandfather, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin.

Mr. Malcolm MacDonald once spoke about His Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin,

He was one of the most colourful personages whom I have ever met and we had many interesting times together. I shall always miss his lively personality of future visits to Brunei. He was the scion of an ancient royal house. For centuries it has ruled the State of Brunei which is historic and of great importance in the annals of South East Asia. Today our sympathy goes out to the late Sultan's consort and family and to his people who mourn his passing.

— Letter from Malcolm MacDonald to the British Resident in Brunei, 5 June 1950

Personal lifeEdit

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and Tengku Raihani on 17 June 1945


Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was married to Tengku Raihani, the eldest daughter of Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah of Selangor on 30 April 1934, when he was 20 years old. She would later be crowned on 15 October 1935.[1]

Tengku Raihani was crowned as Tengku Ampuan of Brunei on 17 March 1940. In conjunction with his wedding ceremony, he has ordered a new palace to be built and named Istana Mahkota Khairani, where he and his wife lived. He also intended to change the name of Brunei Mosque to Ahmedia Mosque. However, upon completion of his wedding ceremony, a new palace was named Istana Mahkota and Brunei Mosque retained its name.


His marriage to Tengku Ampuan Raihani, saw them welcome a daughter, named Pengiran Anak Puteri Noor Ehsani, born on 15 October 1935.[25] Before he married Tengku Ampuan Raihani, he was already married with Kadayang Amas (Maskaton) binti Ampuan Salleh, who came from an ordinary family, from Kampong Sultan Lama.[26] They were blessed with 3 daughters;

  • Pengiran Anak Datin Seri Setia Siti Saerah (Balabab Besar), born in 1928, died on 4 November 2013.[27]
  • Pengiran Anak Datin Seri Setia Siti Zubaidah (Balabab Tengah)
  • Pengiran Anak Datin Seri Setia Siti Halimah (Balabab Damit), born in 1935, died on 4 January 2009.[28]


Ahmad Tajuddin Primary School, a primary school in Kuala Belait was named after him.


  • (1939). Panduan Keselamatan (Safety Guides).[29]
  • Mohamed, Muhaimin (2011). Reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin – Government, Community, and Change.



  1. ^ a b c d e f Mohamed, Muhaimin. SULTAN AHMAD TAJUDDIN 1924-1950: HUBUNGAN RAJA DENGAN PENASIHAT (PDF). Pusat Sejarah Brunei.
  2. ^ "The Revival of Brunei Nationalism (MIB Series)". The Revival of Brunei Nationalism (MIB Series). Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  3. ^ Colonial Reports--annual. H.M. Stationery Office. 1932. p. 29.
  4. ^ Hussainmiya, B.A. (1995). Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain, The Making of Brunei Darssalam. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. p. 46.
  5. ^ Horton, AVM (1985). The Development of Brunei During the British Residential Era, 1906-1959 : A Sultanate Regenerated. University of Hull. p. 622.
  6. ^ Horton, A. V. M. (1985). The Development of Brunei During the British Residential Era 1906-1959: A Sultanate Regenerated. University of Hull. p. 125.
  7. ^ Brunei State Council Minutes. 31 December 1939.
  8. ^ Brunei State Council Minutes. 16 March 1936.
  9. ^ Brunei States Council Minutes. 28 October 1940.
  10. ^ Brunei in the Second World War, Harun Abdul Majid, Rebellion in Brunei: The 1962 Revolt, Imperialism, Confrontation and Oil - Volume 14 of International library of twentieth century history, I.B.Tauris, 2007, pages 12-13, ISBN 184511423X, 9781845114237
  11. ^ "The Japanese Interregnum...," Graham Saunders, A history of Brunei, Edition 2, illustrated, reprint, Routledge, 2002, p. 129, ISBN 070071698X, 978-0700716982
  12. ^ a b Zullkiflee, Amalina (2019). Strategi Awang Haji Kassim dalam Usaha Menyelamatkan Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin: Satu Kajian Awal (PDF). Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali.
  13. ^ Horton, A. V. M. (1985). The Development of Brunei During the British Residential Era 1906-1959: A Sultanate Regenerated. University of Hull. p. 299.
  14. ^ Brunei State Council Minutes. 29 March 1949.
  15. ^ Hab, Rasidah (12 April 2016). "HM pays last respects to ex-chief minister". Brunei Times. Archived from the original on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  16. ^ A.i.l (12 April 2016). "WARISAN RAJA & PERMAISURI MELAYU: Ayahanda dan Bonda Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah". WARISAN RAJA & PERMAISURI MELAYU. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  17. ^ MacDonald Papers, Durham University Library, minute by H.E. The Commissioner General, 1949.
  18. ^ Reece, Bob (1993). Datu Bandar Abang Haji Mustapha of Sarawak. Kuala Lumpur: Ampang Press Sdn. Bhd. pp. 118–119.
  19. ^ "Silver Jubilee of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin 1949". Silver Jubilee of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin 1949. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  20. ^ Reece, R.H.W. (1993). The Name of Brooke, The End of White Rajah Rule In Sarawak. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. p. 279.
  21. ^ "Sultans of Brunei Series I - Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin". Sultans of Brunei Series I - Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  22. ^ a b c d Tengkusyah (27 July 2013). "Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS): Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin - Sultan Brunei Ke-27". Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS). Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  23. ^ "SULTAN OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM AHMAD TAJUDDIN WHO DIED IN …". www.nas.gov.sg. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  24. ^ "COMMISSIONER-GENERAL FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA MALCOLM MACDONALD …". www.nas.gov.sg. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  25. ^ Tengkusyah (23 January 2011). "Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS): Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Nor Ehsani binti Almarhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akazul Khairi Waddien". Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS). Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  26. ^ "selang7". www.royalark.net. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  27. ^ "Sultanate - News | Negara Brunei Darussalam | YAM Pg Anak Datin Seri Setia Hajah Siti Saerah passes away". www.sultanate.com. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  28. ^ Tengkusyah (6 November 2013). "Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS): Makam Allahyarhamah Pengiran Anak Datin Seri Setia Hajah Siti Saerah binti Almarhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin". Maharum Bugis Syah (MBS). Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  29. ^ Horton, A. V. M. (1985). The Development of Brunei During the British Residential Era 1906-1959: A Sultanate Regenerated. University of Hull. p. 301.
  30. ^ History (23 October 2010). "HISTORY: The Reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1924-1950)". HISTORY. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
Regnal titles
Preceded by Sultan of Brunei
Succeeded by