Istana Negara (National Palace - Old), surrounded by a beautiful park, green lawns and ponds, Istana Negara or National Palace is the official residence of His Majesty, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, the King of Malaysia. It stands on a 13 acre (60,000 m²) site, located at a commanding position on the slope of a hill of Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River.
You can watch the Palace from outside the main gate where the Royal Guards, dressed in white Malay as well as red British inspired uniforms, are guarding the main gate on horse and on foot.
Malaysia consists of 9 Sultanates (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Sembilan and Terengganu) and 4 non monarchic states (Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak). The “Yang Di-Pertuan Agong” or Paramount Ruler is elected among the sultans every five years which means that there are 45 years until a sultan can be elected for the second time.
A symbolic role, the king embodies Malaysia's heritage as a collection of Muslim kingdoms and also serves as titular head of the armed forces and keeper of the official religion, Islam.
The 13th and current Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu. His reign began on 13 December 2006.
The Istana was originally a double storey mansion built in 1928 by a local Chinese immigrant millionaire, Chan Wing, who made his money in tin mines and other businesses. Chan Wing built the huge house to accommodate his large family, including his 26 wives, whom he brought to Kuala Lumpur from Hong Kong in the 1920s.
According to the book, From Poor Migrant to Millionaire Chan Wing 1873-1947, written by Chan King Nui, the eighth daughter of Chan Wing, the house (now Istana Negara) was the scene of big celebrations including Chinese New Year.
During World War II, the Chan family fled to India and only returned after the war. Often referred to as “the house on the hill”, Istana Negara was acquired by the British Army for the Royal Airforce (R.A.F.) after the war.
Later, the house was bought by the Selangor Government for the use of the Sultan before it was acquired by the Federal Government in 1954. Extensive renovations were then undertaken on the property.
After the Japanese occupation, it served as a residence of the Sultan of Selangor until 1957. After Independence, Federal Government acquired it for use as the official residence of the King after some major renovation and extension. The house became the official residence of Malaysia’s first King and all the royal regalia are kept at the house.
The driveway, lined with cypresses and casuarinas, leads to two entrances - an entrance to the West Wing and the other to the East Wing. Balairong Seri is the throne room of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. It is located in the East Wing and only used for official and customary functions. These include ceremonial occasions of taking the royal pledge, installation ceremony of a new elected King and the appointment of a new prime minister and the federal government which included investiture ceremonies and the taking of oaths by the government ministers and state governors. This is also where the presentation and acceptance of foreign diplomatic appointments are held. It sometimes serves as a banquet hall.
The second hall on the first floor is the Dewan Mengadap where the King receives honoured guests such as Head of States and foreign dignitaries. This hall doubles as a resting place of Sultans and Governors during the Conference of Rulers. The other rooms are Bilik Duta, Bilik Permaisuri and Bilik Menteri. Bilik Duta is where the King grants audience to the Prime Minister and also where honoured guests are received. The Queen receives her guests at the Bilik Permaisuri while the Bilik Menteri is the rest room for guests.
The Conference of Rulers is held at the Bilik Mesyuarat Raja-Raja situated in the West Wing.
In the grounds of the palace is a guard house for the royal guards. There is also a six hole golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool and a lake in the far end of the grounds.