Ranee Margaret arrived in Sarawak in 1870, and the royal couple then occupied The Astana as their main home. She later reminisced about life in The Astana and colonial Borneo in her memoir My Life in Sarawak, which was published in 1913.
Brooke is said to have cultivated betel nut in a small plantation behind the Astana, so that he could offer fresh betel nut to visiting Dayak chiefs.
The residence was originally three separate buildings, with each connected to the other by short and narrow passageways. In 1883, a clock tower was added at the front of the palace in memory of Charles Brooke, who was the first resident.
The Astana has since undergone major renovations and alterations befitting it as the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak.