Tunku Abdul Rahman was born at the “Istana Tiga Tingkat” (Three Storey Palace) in Alor Setar, Kedah on the 8th of February, 1903. He was the 20th child of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halimshah, the 24th Sultan of Kedah. Tunku's mother, Nerang, better known as Che Menjalara, was a descendent of Chao Phya Maha Kota, Thailand. Although Tunku lived at the palace grounds, he frequently slipped out to play with the village boys. His moderate personality with a good sense of humour and down to earth manner in which he carried himself, made him often known as 'The Prince' with a common touch.
away, Tunku had to return to Kedah. He then studied in a Malay school for a year and then joined the Penang Free School.
When he was seventeen, Tunku left for England to continue his studies, on a Kedah Government Scholarship. He also represented his college in his favourite game, football. In 1926, Tunku returned to Kedah with a bachelor's degree in law and history from the Cambridge University which he obtained in 1925. 4 months later, Tunku was sent back to England by his elder brother, Tunku Ibrahim, who was the Raja Muda (Crown Prince) of Kedah at that time to continue his law studies at the Inner Temple. In view of the increasing number or Malay students, he got together with the others and formed The Malay Association of Great Britain and was elected secretary of the association. Due to lack of concentration, after 5 years he failed in his studies and returned to Malaya.
Tunku chose to join the Civil Service as a cadet in the Legal Advisor's Office in Alor Setar and then as Assistant District Officer and District Officer in several areas in Kedah.
In 1933, Tunku married a Chinese lady who became a Muslim, Meriam and had two children, Tunku Khadijah and Tunku Ahmad Nerang. Not long after that, when Tunku was in charge of Kuala Nerang, Meriam died of malaria, in a time when he was trying hard to improve health and medical conditions there. Another attempt to complete his law studies in England was made in 1938. While there, Tunku married Violet Coulson from England, but the union was short-lived. When the Second World War broke out Tunku had to return to Kedah. He was appointed District Officer or Sungai Petani and later of Kulim. In 1939, he married Sharifah Rodziah bt. Syed AIwi Barakbah and they lead a happy married life until the end of Tunku's life. Tunku was determined to finish his studies. In 1947, he went back to England and this time he returned happily alter successfully completing his studies at the Inns of Court.
Soon after that, Tunku was made Chairman of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Kedah. When Date' Onn bin Jaafar resigned as UMNO President, Tunku was chosen to lead the party. Among historic events guided by Tunku was the political alliance of UMNO and, the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) in 1952 and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) who joined the Alliance in 1955. In the same year, Tunku also declared an amnesty for communist terrorists who surrendered. 5 years later, the concerted efforts of all Malayans succeeded in ending the Emergency caused by communist terrorism.
Efforts in freeing the country from being ruled further by the British were finally accomplished. On the midnight of 30th August 1957 at the Selangor Club Padang, the Malayan flag was hoisted taking place of the Union lack. The next morning, the 31st of August, at the Merdeka Stadium, Tunku read the Proclamation of Independence followed by the shouts of 'Merdeka' which were joyously echoed by thousands who were there and the millions who followed the proceedings through the radio.
Nearly 3 years later, Tunku mooted the formation of Malaysia, to comprise Malaya, Singapore , North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei. Brunei decided not to join the formation. Although the Philippines and Indonesia opposed, Malavsia was successfully formed in 1963. In 1965, Singapore decided to leave Malaysia and that decision saddened Tunku.
Tunku then relinquished his position as the first Prime Minister of Malaysia to his deputy Tun Abdul Razak after the race riot outbreak on the 13th of May, 1969. Although Tunku was not holding any position in the government, he continued to contribute through his books, newspaper columns and occasional speeches. Tunku also received numerous honours, awards and honorary degrees for his role and effort from the State and Federal Government, universities, charity organizations and foreign governments.
The late Tunku Abdul Rahman passed away in 1990 at the age of 87 years old.