32nd Sultan of Perak: Sultan Yussuf Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil (1948-1963)

Portrait of Sultan Yussuf Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil. (Source: Family of Almarhum DYAM Raja Ekram's private collection)

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.

A portrait of Raja Yussuf Izzudin as Raja Muda, 1938. (Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)

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.

A photo of Almarhum taken at Trafalgar Square, London. c.1953-5. (Source: Family of Almarhum DYAM Raja Ekram's private collection)

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.

A photo taken of Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin (seated in the middle) during his frequent visits to meet the rakyat at kampungs. Almarhumah Raja Perempuan Taayah is also seen here, seated to his left. (Photo: YM Raja Mimi Razman)

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.

Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzudin receiving King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand at Istana Iskandariah, June 1962. (Photo: YM Raja Zazlan Raja Shahrin)

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.

Circular dated 5 January 1963 from the Prime Minister's Office in Kuala Lumpur requesting the state flag to be hoisted at half mast as a mark of respect. (Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)

Sultan Yussuf and Raja Perempuan Taayah (leftmost) with Raja Azlan Shah (later Sultan, second left) and Che Bainun binti Mohd Ali (later Raja Permaisuri, rightmost). (Source: Family of Almarhum DYAM Raja Ekram's private collection)

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.
4. RoyalArk.net
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.

Sultan Yusuf Izzudin attending the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1953

One of DYMM Sultan Yusuf Izzudin’s visit to Britain was when Tuanku attended the coronation of Elizabeth II which took place on 2 June 1953. During the coronation, the “colonial Rulers” were in the vanguard of the coronation procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.  Respresenting the Malay states, the Malay rulers were led by  Sultan Ibrahim IV of Kelantan[1], followed by Sultan Yusuf Izzudin, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor and finally Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah of Selangor.

Sultan Yusuf Izzudin upon reaching Southampton. (Photo courtesy of the family of DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Ekram)

The only problem on the coronation day was the typical British weather – it poured down with rain! Nevertheless, that did not stop people all over Britain holding parties in the decorated streets of their towns and cities. In London, the roads were packed with people waiting to see the procession that took place.

DYMM Sultan Yusuff Izzudin walking alongside DYMM Sultan Ibrahim of Johor (right) upon arriving in Britain. (Photo courtesy of the family of DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Ekram)

Sultan Yusuf Izzudin arrived in Malaya from Britain on 23 July 1953 on the Willem Ruys[2]. Upon reaching Tanjung Malim, where he was greeted by the Menteri Besar, Dato’ Panglima Bukit Gantang, there was a big welcome for Tuanku. He was given a royal salute of 21 guns.

Letter from HM Queen Elizabeth II expressing her gratitude for Sultan Yusuf Izzudin's attendance to her coronation. (Source: Family of DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Ekram)

When asked by a reporter about the coronation, Sultan Yusuf Izzudin’s reply was that his visit to Britain was made all the more memorable by the knowledge that his rakyat were celebrating the same event at the same time. During the interview, Tuanku mentioned that he was particularly impressed with the orderliness of the London crowd. Tuanku also said,”I enjoyed every minute of the coronation. It was most impressive. I shall never forget it.” While in London, Tuanku also saw a good number of Malayan students and spoke to many from Perak.

Willem Ruys, the passenger liner that transported DYMM Sultan Yusuf Izzudin for the coronation. (Source: Google Images)

In 1955, Tuanku went to Britain again for three months, of which he spent two weeks in a London clinic for recuperation.  During the trip, Tuanku was accompanied by his physician, Dr. Megat Khas and his aide-de-camp, Captain Raja Amir. While in London, Tuanku, together with Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, attended a buka puasa at the Malaya Hall. Sultan Ibrahim was already in Britain for eleven months. Both Sultans  returned to Malaya together  on the Willem Ruys. Apparently, a 17-gun salute was shot as Sultan Ibrahim’s car crossed the causeway from Singapore.

[1] Click here to see a photo in LIFE magazine of Sultan Ibrahim IV of Kelantan at Westminster Abbey.
[2] Willem Ruys was a passenger liner that was built between 1939 and 1947. In 1964, her name was changed to Achille Lauro. She is most remembered for her 1985 hijacking. However, in 1994, the ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.


1. 4 Malay Sultans for crowning. The Straits Times. 1952 October 24.
2. Big welcome for Sultan, home after C-Day. The Straits Times. 1953 July 24.
3. Sultans to attend Malaya Hall party in London. The Straits Times. 1955 June 8.
4. A big “welcome home” awaits Perak Ruler. The Straits Times. 1955 August 17.

Note: All the references were made available with permission from Singapore Press Holdings ©www.sph.com.sg.

A royal wedding: DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Ekram and Raja Puan Muda Nur Ema

Raja DH Ekrams bersanding ceremony

(Source: Raja Shahriman)

This was the bersanding ceremony of DYAM Raja Ekram ibni Sultan Yusuf Izzudin and DYAM Raja Puan Muda Raja Nur Ema binti Raja Muhammad Zulkifli. Raja Ekram was the eldest brother of Sultan Azlan Shah. His cousin Raja Zainal (Dam) Raja Razman is seen here standing next to Raja Puan Muda.

The wedding took place on 10 May 1963 at Istana Iskandariah, Kuala Kangsar. Raja Puan Muda Nur Ema was 17 years old when she married Almarhum Raja Ekram.

YAM Raja Puan Muda Nur Ema is the eldest daughter of Raja Muhammad Zulkifli bin Raja Ishak and was born at Bukit Chandan. Her grandfather, Raja Ishak bin Raja Kulop Muhammad, was the brother of the Raja Perempuan Kelsom, consort of Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

YAM Raja Puan Muda Nur Ema currently resides in Ipoh.

[For more details on DYAM Raja Di-Hilir Ekram, please click here.]