Saudi heir reportedly pressured for hours to give up claim to throne

Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was reportedly held against his will in a palace in Mecca in June and pressured for hours to give up his seat.

The New York Times reported that Mohammed bin Nayef gave in by daybreak the next day and it was later announced that Mohammed bin Salman, 31-year-old son of King Salman, would be next in line.

The appointment of such a young royal as the immediate heir to the throne essentially sets Saudi policy for decades in the hands of a man seen as a risk taker.

The prince, known as MBS, already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister. He has also become popular among some of Saudi Arabia’s youth, who make up the bulk of the population, for pursuing reforms that have opened the deeply conservative country to entertainment and greater foreign investments as part of an effort to overhaul the economy, including plans to list a percentage of the state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The young prince was little known to Saudis before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father’s royal court when Salman was the crown prince.

The Saudi monarch quickly named him second-in-line to the throne two years ago to the surprise of many within the royal family who were older and more experienced.

A senior Saudi official in a letter denied that Mohammed bin Nayef was pressured, The Times reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report