Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj was born in Alor Star, Kedah, on 8 February 1903, the seventh son of the Ruler of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. His mother was Che Manjalara.
After receiving his early education in a Malay and English School in Alor Star, Tunku was sent to a Siamese school in Bangkok. In 1920, a State scholarship took him to England for higher education. He entered St. Catherine�s College, Cambridge, and read history and law. He graduated in 1925 with a B.A. Degree. He then joined the Inner Temple, in London, but his studies were interrupted.
In 1931, he returned to Kedah, and joined the Kedah State Civil Service. He served as District Officer in Kuala Nerang, then Langkawi, Sungai Patani, and finally in Kulim.
In 1948, Tunku Abdul Rahman became Chairman of UMNO Kedah. He returned to London to complete his law studies and was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple. On his return to Malaya in 1949 he was appointed as a Deputy Public Prosecutor. In 1951, he succeeded Dato Sir Onn bin Ja�afar as President of the United Malays National Organisation. On 27th July 1955, the Federation�s first elections to the Federal Legislative Council were held. The Alliance swept through the polls, winning 51 out of 52 seats. In the new Government Tunku Abdul Rahman became Chief Minister.
On 31 December 1955, Tunku Abdul Rahman headed a delegation from the Alliance, to London for talks with the British Government on the future constitution of the Federation. On 31th August 1957, Malaya became independent and Tunku Abdul Rahman became her first Prime Minister. On 21th August 1959, Tunku Abdul Rahman became Prime Minister for the second time. On 6th June 1960, Cambridge University conferred on Tunku Abdul Rahman an honorary Doctorate of Laws. Tunku also had been honoured with the same degree by the University of Malaya; the University of Sydney; Areneta University in the Philippines; University of Saigon in 1961; Aligarh Muslim University in India in 1962 and Seoul National University of Korea in 1965.
In 1961, the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN) was formed during his tenure as Prime Minister. Tunku visited London in November for talks with the British Government which resulted in an agreement to go ahead with the Malaysia concept and to appoint a special commission to enquire into public opinion in Sabah and Sarawak.
In 1962, Tunku was named as the first Chancellor of the newly formed University of Malaya. Tunku visited London in July for further discussions on Malaysia which resulted in the decision to establish the new nation on or before 31th August 1963.
A keen sportsman, Tunku had been a football fan all his life. He was President of the Football Association of Malaya, President of the Asian Football Confederation, and President of the Asian Badminton Confederation. His other personal interests include golf, sailing and photography. In addition, he was the owner of a remarkable collection of Malay weapons, especially the kris.
Tunku passed away at the age of 87. He was laid to rest at the Royal Mousoleum, Langgar, Kedah on 7 December 1990.