Tunku Puan Zanariah

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Raja Permaisuri Agong
Tenure26 April 1984 – 25 April 1989
Installation15 November 1984
PredecessorTengku Afzan
SuccessorTuanku Bainun
Sultanah of Johor
Tenure11 May 1981 – 22 January 2010
PredecessorTunku Puan Nora
SuccessorRaja Zarith Sofiah (as Permaisuri of Johor)
Tunku Puan of Johor
Tenure16 February 2011 – 17 March 2019
PredecessorTunku Puan Nora
Born(1940-07-05)5 July 1940
Istana Dusun Green, Pasir Mas, Kelantan
Died17 March 2019(2019-03-17) (aged 78)
Johor Bahru, Johor
Burial18 March 2019
(m. 1961; died 2010)
IssueTunku Mariam Zaharah
Tunku Norani Fatimah
Tunku Maimunah Ismailiah
Tunku Abdul Majid
Tunku Muna Najiah
Tunku Aminah Kalsum Masera Marian Zahira Iskandariah[1][2]
Tengku Zanariah binti Tengku Ahmad
Regnal name
Sultanah Zanariah binti Tengku Ahmad
HouseTemenggong (by marriage)
Long Yunus (by birth)
FatherTengku Long Ahmad bin Tengku Abdul Ghaffar (Tengku Panglima Raja of Kelantan)
MotherChe Puan Hajah Fatimah binti Dato Abdul Hamid
ReligionSunni Islam

Tunku Puan Hajah Zanariah binti Almarhum Tengku Ahmad,[3] formerly known as Sultanah Zanariah (Jawi: تونكو ڤوان زانريه; 5 July 1940 – 17 March 2019),[4] was the second wife of Sultan Iskandar of Johor from their marriage in 1961 until his death in 2010. She served as Raja Permaisuri Agong between 1984 and 1989.

Her sister, Tunku Puan Nora nee Sultanah Nora Ismail, was married to her father-in-law, Sultan Ismail.[5]

Early life[edit]

Born on 5 July 1940, in Dusun Green Palace, Pasir Mas, Kelantan, Tengku Zanariah was the seventh child of HH Tengku Panglima Raja Kelantan from among nine siblings. She came from the Kelantan royal family.[4] Her father, the late Tengku Panglima Raja Tengku Ahmad was a son of HH Almarhum Tengku Temenggong Tengku Abdul Ghaffar Ibni HRH Long Senik Mulut Merah (Sultan Muhammad II).

Tengku Zanariah was enrolled into Sultanah Zainab School, Kelantan an elementary school where she studied from 1946 to 1949. Between 1950 and 1952 she studied at the Convent Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur before returning to Kelantan where she continued her studies at Sultan Ibrahim School, Pasir Mas. With the encouragement of her father and her own desire to equip herself for the future, she left for England in 1954 to further her studies at the Upper Chime School, Isle of Wight.[4]

While studying in England, Tengku Zanariah met Tunku Mahmud[6] (later Sultan Iskandar) who was also studying there. They later married in 1961, and became the mother of Tunku Mahmud's six children.[2][7]

Sultanah of Johor[edit]

Her husband became Sultan of Johor in 1981. Although she was known as Sultanah,[8] she was never formally crowned.[3]

In 1982, Tengku Zanariah sponsored and established the Majlis Wanita Negeri Johor or MAWAR (the Women's Council of Johor), which organises various religious activities such as the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday at its headquarters at Sungai Cat Road in Johor Bahru.[9] MAWAR also collected donations for distribution among flood victims in Johor as well as the less fortunate and the needy.

Her husband died in 2010 and was succeeded by her stepson Tunku Ibrahim Ismail. In 2011, a government circular issued removed the honorific 'Sultanah' from her name, and instructed that she be referred to instead as 'Tunku Puan Zanariah' or simply 'Tunku Zanariah'. The current royal court also does not recognise her as a former holder of the title Sultanah of Johor.[3]


Tunku Zanariah had a passion for the arts. She also loved cooking and took great care in her daily chores. She paid special attention to the selection and arrangement of decorations in the palace particularly in preparation for official dinners. Tunku Zanariah also loved reading especially about culture, history and affairs of neighbouring countries.

She was also the winner of the first edition of Miss Malaya-International 1960 where she had rights to represent Malaya in the 1st edition of Miss International 1960 pageant in California, United States. Unfortunately, she did not placed in the pageant during that time.

During her free time, Tunku Zanariah loved to exercise, ride horses and play golf or tennis. She was also good in water skiing. During her younger days, she climbed Gunung Ledang, the highest mountain in Johor. She is currently the only consort to have done so.[4]


  • Chancellor of the University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM) from 1986 to 2010.
  • Patron of the Iskandar Puteri Foundation.
  • Patron of the Women’s Council of Johor (MAWAR) from 1982 to 2019.


Tengku Zanariah died on 17 March 2019. She was laid to rest next to grave of her late mother, Che Puan Hajah Fatimah at the Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum in Johor Bahru, Johor.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Honours of Johor[edit]

Honours of Malaysia[edit]

Foreign Honours[edit]

  •  Brunei : Family Order of Brunei (Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama, DK, 4 April 1987)

Places named after her[edit]

Several places were named after her, including:

  • Sultanah Zanariah Library, a library in Johor Bahru, Johor


  1. ^ JOHOR (Sultanate)
  2. ^ a b Rahman, Solomon, pg 21
  3. ^ a b c "No 'sultanah' title or special perks for 2 Johor consorts". New Straits Times. 17 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Information Malaysia (1985), pg 58
  5. ^ Tan Chee Khoon, pg 25
  6. ^ "Tengku" is spelled as "Tunku" in Johor; Malaysian Protocol and Correct Forms of Address (1986), pg 20
  7. ^ Negara Brunei Darussalam: A Biographical Dictionary (1860-1996) (1996), pg 290
  8. ^ "Sultanah: We need more graduates". New Straits Times. 16 April 2000. National p. 9.
  9. ^ Maklumat lisan Johor, pg 146
  10. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1987" (PDF).


  • Negara Brunei Darussalam: A Biographical Dictionary (1860-1996), A. V. M. Horton, 1996, ISBN 0-9524831-8-1
  • Challenging Times, Abdul Rahman, J. S. Solomon, published by Pelanduk Publications, 1985, ISBN 967-978-094-5
  • Information Malaysia, published by Berita Publications Sdn. Bhd., 1985
  • Maklumat Lisan Johor: Projek Pelajar-Pelajar Lewartawanan, Kajian Sebaran Am, Institut Teknologi MARA, Biroteks, published by Institut Teknologi MARA, 1987
  • Malaysian Protocol and Correct Forms of Address, Abdullah Ali, published by Times Books International, 1986, ISBN 9971-65-370-2
  • Sistem beraja di Malaysia, Tan Chee Khoon, published by Pelanduk Publications, 1985
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tengku Afzan
(Tengku Ampuan of Pahang)
Raja Permaisuri Agong
(Queen of Malaysia)
Succeeded by
Tuanku Bainun
(Raja Permaisuri of Perak)