Istana Negara or National Palace is the official residence of His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia. It stands on a 28 acre (110,000 m²) site, located at a commanding position on the slope of a hill of Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River, along Jalan Syed Putra.
It was built in 1928 and was originally the residence of a millionaire, Mr. Chan Wing. During the Japanese Occupation from 1942-1945, it was used as the Japanese Officers’ mess. After the surrender of the Japanese, the building was bought by the Selangor State Government and after being renovated, it became the palace of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor until 1957.
The Federal Government then bought the palace in 1957, to be converted into the Istana Negara for the newly created sovereign post of Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya which was about to achieve independence.
Since then it has undergone several renovations and extensions. But the most extensive upgrading was carried out in 1980, as it was the first time that the Installation Ceremony of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held at the Istana Negara. Prior to this the Installation Ceremonies were held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. On November 10, Istana Negara was the site of large anti-government rally called The Bersih rally which was organised by a number of non-governmental organisations and opposition political parties to demand electoral reform in the country, whereby about 50,000 people took to the streets to hand over a memorandum to the king.
This majestic building is nestled within a serene and beautiful 11.34-hectare compound with a variety of plants and flowers, swimming pool and indoor badminton hall.
As the palace grounds are not opened to members of the public or tourists, the Main Palace Entrance is a favourite picture spot for tourists.
The whole area is fenced up and the Royal Insignia of His Majesty is placed on each steel bar between two pillars of the fence. At the front of the Istana Negara, there is the main entrance which resembles a beautiful arch. On each side of the arch, are two guard posts to shelter two members of the cavalry in their smart full dress uniform similar to the ones at Buckingham Palace, London.
In the grounds of the palace is a guard house for the body of household troops. There is also a six hole golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool and a lake in the far end of the grounds.
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.
The new RM 400 million Istana Negara complex will be built near Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur to replace the existing Istana Negara. Construction was to commence mid-2007 and is expected to be completed by year 2009. The fate of the old building is unknown.