Sitting just up the street from Bandar Seri Begawan’s main intersection sits the Royal Regalia Building, a building which in its splendor lies a vast collection of discarded relics and monuments to the current Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu‘izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam. In true cult of personality style, the building – truthfully, more of a museum – houses exhibits to illustrate the important up bringing, education, marriage, travels, coronation and subsequent rule of the current Bruneian head of state.
Entrance to the museum is, quite enticingly free of charge. Inside, all belongings, including cameras must be left at the counter in order to enter and enjoy the chronology of the Sultan’s life. There are replicas of His throne, various crowns, gowns, weapons and splendid examples of tributes offered to the Sultan. Gifts of elaborate crystal, jade, ivory, and silver, to name a few, serve to remind visitors of the Sultan’s inscrutable wealth. It leaves one to wonder: if such precious offerings do not even make it on a shelf of his palace, the largest personal residence in the world, how rich is this man?
The most interesting sections are the life sized replica of the Sultan’s silver jubilee in 1992 and a small room which houses the many decorations to his military service. His silver jubilee is documented with a to scale model of his parade float with scores of uniformed mannequins encompassing it to represent his honour guard In another room, well over twenty different countries’ military honors and decorations exemplify the Sultan’s apparent military prowess.
As one of Bandar Seri Segawan’s main attractions, the museum usually pulls in most visitors to the city. With scarce else to do in an astonishingly quiet capital city, if one is in Brunei, a stop at the Royal Regalia Building is necessary to comprehend the absolute monarchy that rules in the tiny sultanate (if not only to beat the oppressive heat).