Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia has died, the Saudi court has confirmed. The Crown Prince, who was probably 85 years old, is believed to have died from colon cancer in a hospital in New York. He was the half-brother and heir to King Abdullah, who is around 87 years old and currently in hospital in Riyadh following back surgery earlier this week. Crown Prince Sultan held a number of government posts throughout his life and was at the time of his death Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and Aviation.
Born sometime between 1925 and 1931, but most likely in 1926, Sultan was one of the many sons of the founder of the Kingdom, King Abdul-Aziz (Ibn Saud). The succession has so far passed from one brother to another, meaning for instance that King Fahd on his death in 2005 was succeeded by his brother Abdullah, who appointed Sultan his heir. Following the death of Sultan the most likely candidate for crown prince is considered to be his 78-year-old brother, Prince Nayef, who is currently Interior Minister and Second Deputy Prime Minister, but it is also possible that the choice of heir will be left to the Allegiance Council, a body of princes which was set up a few years ago.
The funeral will be held in the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque in Riyadh on Tuesday. Crown Prince Sultan is survived by 32 children by eleven wives, including Prince Bandar, who is best known for having been the Saudi ambassador to the United States for several years.