As the crisis around the Jamal Khashoggi killing deepens and the pressure on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman grows, many in the royal family are questioning the fate of the throne.

Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz returned to Riyadh from London three weeks ago for “crisis talks” after six years of retirement.

The prince is the only living full brother of the present King Salman bin Abdulaziz and is reported to be backed by many Saudi family members as the next crown prince who could replace the present one in office: Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

According to a Reuters report, three sources close the royal court said that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the international reaction it generated, damaged the reputation of Saudi Arabia's royal house and saw MBS reach the limits of his political recklessness. 

Some see it as the end of MBS's short-lived career.

There are many factions within the al Saud family who want to change the line of succession, but they know that King Salman won't remove his favoured son.

Therefore, many in the royal family are believed to be waiting for the death of the king and may act quickly to replace him with someone other than MBS. 

This person may very well be Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz.

Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz returning to Riyadh after being in retirement for six years.
Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz returning to Riyadh after being in retirement for six years. (

Who is Prince Ahmed?

Ahmed bin Abdulaziz is the younger brother of the present King Salman and, along with Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, the three are the only sons of the first king of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz bin Saud, who are still alive.

He is also the youngest full brother of the present king.

Prince Ahmed is 75 years old and believed to have the support of different security organisations, many family members and some Western allies too.

The prince has close links to the Saudi Ulama (Muslim religious leaders), from his time as deputy prime minister, during which he had to coordinate between the Ulama and the Saudi administration.

The Saudi Royal Family Tree
The Saudi Royal Family Tree (Reuters)

His Public Offices

His first official position was in the region of Mecca, between 1970-75, in which he was under-secretary and deputy governor of Mecca under the reformist leadership of King Faisal (1964-75), who was assassinated by his nephew in 1975 .

King Khalid bin Abdulaziz then appointed him as deputy prime minister, a position he served in for over three decades until 2012.

Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was deputy prime minister under three kings. King Khalid (1975-82), King Fahd (1982-2005) and King Abdullah (2005-15).

In 2012, he became interior minister, a position he kept for most of that year.

Later in 2015, he was chosen by King Salman as a new crown prince, a position he held until 2017, when MBS replaced him as Crown Prince and Mohammed bin Nayef was relieved of all positions by royal decree.

Prince Ahmed's Expertise

Prince Ahmed became deputy prime minister before MBS was born, in 1985.

His responsibilities varied from internal security and internal reforms to the governance of Saudi federations.

The prince was the first operational head of the special security force, a department established to prevent a second seizure of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca in 1979.

In 1980, he had to carry out administrative reforms in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, where Saudi citizens are predominantly Shia Muslims.

He himself admitted that the Saudi family neglected this region for decades, and he introduced infrastructure and investment programmes in the provinces. 

According to a 2004 report, Prince Ahmed is known for his massive spending on public security but few, if any, claims of corruption were associated with him.

His record of public service in Saudi Arabia, plus his royal pedigree, would ensure that should a vacancy open up, or an opportunity present itself, it could lead to him being mooted as a replacement for MBS as the future king.