In Depth

Gurkhas should no longer protect the Sultan of Brunei

Introduction of brutal Sharia law means it’s time to get out - even if Sultan is buddies with Prince Charles

Crispin Black

Whose brother named his super yacht ‘Tits’, and the speedboats attached to it ‘Nipple 1’ and ‘Nipple 2’? Who is a big chum of the Prince of Wales, attending as an honoured guest Prince William’s wedding?   Whom does a battalion of British Gurkhas protect? And who earlier this month announced his plans to introduce Sharia law into his statelet (about a quarter of the size of Wales) in various stages. 

The answer is, of course, the Sultan of Brunei  – also concurrently prime minister, finance minister, and defence minister. 

Let’s just remind ourselves about Sharia law. The following is considered criminal behaviour, punishable by fines, jail, chopping off of limbs, public whipping or death by stoning: absence from Friday prayers; becoming pregnant out of wedlock; converting to Christianity; refusal to wear a hijab; the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians; publicly eating or drinking during Ramadan; theft; homosexuality; and adultery.

Nearly a quarter of Brunei’s 400,000 inhabitants aren’t Muslim.  There are thousands of Philippinos doing much of the drudge work and the Roman Catholic priests who administer to them are already worried that soon baptism and Christian marriage will be illegal.  Sharia law in the modern world only goes one way.

As ever, the façade of religious devotion conceals inhumanity and hypocrisy on a baroque scale.  In June 2010 the United States added Brunei to its human trafficking watchlist as a destination for forced labour and prostitution.  Brunei’s ‘royal’ family certainly doesn’t have a reputation as ‘Sharia-compliant’.

Mervyn Griffith-Jones, a wartime MC with the Coldstream Guards and one of the prosecutors at Nuremburg, famously opened his case against the publishers of Lady Chatterley’s Lover with “Is it a book that you would… wish your wife or your servants to read?” Cue much hilarity at the time.  But shouldn’t we be asking the same sort of question now about Britain’s relations with Brunei. “Is the Sultan of Brunei a man that you would wish your royal family to be friends with?”

The Sultan of Brunei is very mucko-chummo with the Prince of Wales, a man with strong views about some international leaders, last week likening President Putin to Adolf Hitler – a deadly insult to most Russians, particularly Putin whose father was wounded fighting the Germans in 1942 and whose elder brother died as a child of diphtheria in the ghastly siege of Leningrad.   

No members of the Putin family appear to have been members of the Nazi party or fought on the German side or were enthusiastic anti-Semites.  Something the Prince of Wales cannot say of his own close relatives. There are other key differences: unlike both the Prince of Wales and the Sultan of Brunei, Putin has been elected to his position – and whatever his other shortcomings, has little tolerance for fundamentalist Muslims.

As with so many members of the elite who expect deference from the rest of us, the Prince of Wales seems to be a ‘do as I say’ rather than a ‘do as I do’ person.  If he doesn’t like Putin, how can he rub shoulders with the Sultan of Brunei or the King of Bahrain?

We are getting used to our Royal Family voluntarily hobnobbing with sundry foreign grotesques whose behaviour is acceptable to them only because of their royal status but it will finish them in the end if they are not careful. 

And there is another Mervyn Griffiths-Jones-style question we should ask. “Is Brunei a country that you would wish your soldiers to protect?”  

Everyone, not just the uber-delicious and outspoken Joanna Lumley, admires the Gurkhas.  They have a distinguished military history in the service of the British Crown dating from the time of the Indian Mutiny when they were crucial in maintaining British rule in India, against the odds. They have served with distinction in every British military campaign since – except, to the disappointment of the rest of the British Army and no doubt the relief of the IRA, the long counter-insurgency effort in Northern Ireland. 

We should not allow such distinguished warriors to be the ultimate guarantors of Sharia law in Brunei. It’s time for the British to pull out.  If the Sultan wants his security guaranteed then he should apply to the Saudi Arabian Army.

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