Both the Sultan and the Prime Minister of Brunei, Bolkiah was also, at one point, the world's wealthiest person. In 2008, he had a net worth of approximately twenty billion United States dollars.
Prior to his 1967 coronation as Sultan, he studied at England's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He was the leader of Brunei in 1984, when the sovereign state was admitted to the United Nations. Before leading by a more democratic model, he instituted a system of governance in which the Sultan was responsible for defending the Islamic faith.
With his three wives -- Hajah Mariam, Pengiran Anak Saleha, and Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim -- he fathered numerous children (twelve between the years 1969 and 2012). His father, Omar Ali Saifuddien III, was the 28th Sultan of Brunei.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Bolkiah and Oman leader Qaboos Binsaid Al-Said ruled their respective countries under the title of Sultan.