His Royal Highness was born Raja Azlan Shah on 19th April 1928 at Kampung Manggis in Batu Gajah, Perak. He was the second born son of Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah, the 32nd Sultan of Perak, and Toh Puan Besar Hatijah Binti Toh Indera Wangsa Ahmad, a commoner who brought her sons up outside of royal circles.
Even as a youngster, Raja Azlan Shah showed determination and perseverance in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. He started his schooling in Sekolah Melayu Batu Gajah, then went on to the Batu Gajah English School where he graduated with a 'School Certificate', achieving excellent results in Bahasa Melayu, English and Latin. HRH then furthered his studies at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar for his secondary education.
While in school, he was a student activist. Through PERMI, he participated in the struggle founded by Aminuddin Baki to enlighten the population on the importance of knowledge in determining the progress of a nation. He also showed natural leadership qualities, as seen in his appointment as Chief Student in the Batu Gajah English School in 1948. He was also an athlete, being the era's fastest sprinter, in addition to representing the school in cricket, football and hockey – for the latter, HRH was the most feared striker at school and state level.
Raja Azlan Shah successfully obtained Ijazah Sarjana Muda Undang-Undang or the Bachelor of Law degree from University of Nottingham in 1953 and he was admitted to the English Bar at Lincoln's Inn in the United Kingdom on 23 November 1954.
Upon returning to Malaysia, HRH was appointed as Assistant State Secretary for Perak. With law being his passion however, he started legal services as a magistrate and soon became the President of the Sessions Court. He continued to rise quickly through the legal ranks and in 1965, aged 37, became the youngest judge ever appointed to the High Court of Malay a. An appointment to the Federal Court occurred in 1973 and six years later HRH was annointed the Chief Justice of the High Court of Malaya.Finally, on 12 November 1982, HRH’s legal career culminated when he became Ketua Hakim Negara, or the youngest ever Lord President of the Federal Court, the highest judicial post in Malaysia.
In his time presiding over the courts, HRH tried more than 1,000 cases. Raja Azlan Shah was recognized as an honest, courageous, just and wise judge, who always adhered to the principle of upholding the rule of law, and prioritised equality, justice and truth. Indeed, he managed to build a respectable image of justice both domestically and internationally.
While focusing on his judicial duties, he also played an active role in the world of education. He was honored to be the Chairman of the Higher Education Advisory Council in 1974 and was the Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia from 1971 to 1984. He served as an external examiner for the Bachelor of Law at University of Malaya and later became Canselor Universiti Malaya .
He was a leader in sports, in his role as Vice President to Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn in the Malaysia Hockey Association and in his appointments as the President of the Asian Hockey Federation and Vice President of the International Hockey Federation. In 1975, he was responsible for organizing an outstanding Third World Hockey Championship, in addition to being the primary driver to the national hockey team’s success in qualifying for the semi-finals and subsequent fourth-place finish.
On 9th December 1985, HRH was installed as the 34th Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan and assumed the title Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah Ghafarullahu-Lah. The elaborate coronation ceremony was held at Istana Iskandariah, the official palace in Kuala Kangsar, with full state regalia in accordance to the royal customs of the Perak Sultanate.
On 18th September 1989, HRH was installed as the 9th King of Malaysia, assuming the title Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong . His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah reigned supreme for the next five years.
Throughout his successful life and various high-impact undertakings, Sultan Azlan Shah has been awarded a number of academic awards from universities and decorations from other countries.
On 28th May 2014, after 30 years as head of the state of Perak, the country would mourn at news that His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah had passed away. His Royal Highness was 86. The news was announced by Perak Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Dr. Zambry Abd. Kadir, and HRH was subsequently buried at the Royal Mousoleum in Kuala Kangsar after citizens of Perak had paid their last respects. The state flag was flown at half mast during the 100 days of mourning and the late Sultan was posthumously given the title AL-MAGHFUR-LAH which means ‘THE FORGIVEN’.
His Royal Highness’s was truly a life well lived. His achievements and contributions were such as to instill a sense of pride in the people of Perak, having a leader whose name and deeds would live long in the memory on an international level.
This gallery is one of the best ways to chronicle and to understand the remarkable journey that His Royal Highness has been on throughout his long and decorated life. It is an invitation to the public not only to partake in the evolution of their individual and collective history, but also to “meet” the late sovereign ruler in the hope that by doing so it might increase their understanding and appreciation for the Constitutional Monarchy as an institution. In addition, it is hoped that HRH’s successes can be an inspiration to those aspiring to bigger and better things, as well as a reminder that a great leader should have noble qualities and a constant drive to improve oneself.