Raja Yussuf Izzudin was born on 15 January 1891 at Kuala Kangsar – the eldest son of Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil. As a boy, he was educated at Hogan School (before it was known as Clifford School) and later at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar. He then joined government service in 1911 as a Malay probationary officer at the state secretariat in Taiping.
Almarhum was appointed Raja Di-Hilir on 25 January 1919 and later became Raja Bendahara in 1921. He was also a member of the Perak State Council. Almarhum was also in the Malayan Volunteer Infantry (MVI), joining as a private in 1925. Almarhum then was made a lieutenant two years later and was a reserve officer in the Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (FMSVF). Almarhum continued working in the government administrative service and in 1935, he was appointed a magistrate in the Kinta district. Three years later, Almarhum was appointed Raja Muda, on 15 October 1938, upon the demise of his uncle, Sultan Iskandar Shah.
Almarhum ascended the throne of Perak on 29 March 1948, following the demise of Sultan Abdul Aziz, and was styled Sultan Yussuf Izzudin Shah. As Sultan of Perak, Almarhum had shown a consistent interest in the welfare of the people and this was reflected in his official speeches.
Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin was known as a Sultan whose name stood for progress. Almarhum was also remembered as affable, but courtly and dignified, and he was a Sultan that brought about remarkable changes in Perak. It was during his reign that Part II of the Perak Constitution was written and confirmed on 25 February 1953. This concerned articles 1 to 78 which related to the sovereign, the appointments of the sovereign and titled Raja, the Royal Seal, the Dewan Negara and matters concerning the Orang Besar.
Almarhum had a deep love for the people and the rakyat in return venerated him as a just and kindly Sultan, a simple man despite his high office. Never declining to accept an invitation for any function no matter how small, Almarhum also made it a point of visiting the various districts of his sprawling State to see the people and talk to them. Almarhum was also the first Malayan ruler to fly in a glider when he went for a 15 minute flight on 28 September 1953 at the Perak Flying Club. The $12,000 glider was later named after him.
Tall, stately and always dignified, Almarhum had a ready smile and handshake for all. One of his most outstanding characteristics was his desire to meet the common people and mix with them. To his end, Istana Iskandariah, a showpiece, was always open for visitors from all walks of life and if advance notice was given of the visit, he would ensure that suitable entertainment was provided for them. There was a warm spot in the hearts of the rakyat of Perak, in particular the Bukit Chandan folk, for Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin as a ruler who was first their friend and then a Sultan. To all, Almarhum was polite to the last and remained a ruler with the common touch.
Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin had visited England four times. The first was in 1934, when he was presented to George V at Buckingham Palace as Raja Bendahara, and later in 1950 when he had an audience with George VI. Almarhum returned to London in 1953 as an official guest at the coronation of Elizabeth II, and again in 1955, when he had an audience with Elizabeth II.
In June 1962, Almarhum played host to the King and Queen of Thailand. However, on 22 October 1962, Almarhum fell ill. A partial stroke left both his legs paralysed and a few days later an abdominal operation was performed to relieve his bladder. Ever since, Almarhum gradually reduced the number of his official functions and took to using a walking stick. Despite his illness, Almarhum would take an occasionally evening drive, one of his favorite pastimes, in the outskirts of Bukit Chandan.
Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin mangkat at Istana Iskandariah at 4.12p.m on 5 January 1963, ten weeks after the stroke which partially paralysed him and came 11 days before his birthday. He was 72. Almarhum was interred at the Al-Ghufran Royal Mausoleum on Bukit Chandan and was given the posthumous title of Marhum Ghafarullah. Almarhum was succeeded by Sultan Idris Al-Mutawakkil Alallahi Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Shah Kadassallah.
Almarhum was married, at the age of 22 in 1912, to Raja Ta’ayah binti Raja Abdul Hamid, and she remained his first wife until her demise on 18 February 1962. There were other marriages and divorces in his life, which included Tengku Permaisuri Sapura, Hajjah Che Khadija binti Dato’ Wangsa Ahmad and the actress Che Norizan binti Muhammad Noor (who later married the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee).
Almarhum Sultan Yusuf had issue – four sons and a daughter. The eldest son was Almarhum Raja Ekram (Raja Di-Hilir 1963-1978), followed by Raja Zairan, Almarhum Raja Baharom and DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah, the current Sultan of Perak. Almarhum’s only daughter, Raja Pok Saidatuliz, was the wife of Tengku Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Sulaiman, the Tengku Seri Wangsa of Selangor.
1. Arkib Negara Malaysia.
2. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.
3. Portal Raja Kita Negeri Perak Darul Ridzuan.
5. M.A. Fawzi Basri. Cempaka Sari: Sejarah Kesultanan Negeri Perak. 1986.
6. The Straits Times. 1953 September 28. p4.
7. The Straits Times. 1963 January 5. p1, 8.