Tunku Ampuan Najihah binti Almarhum Tunku Besar Burhanuddin (1 September 1923 – 8 September 2023) held the esteemed title of Tunku Ampuan (Queen Dowager) of Negeri Sembilan. She was previously known as the Tunku Ampuan Besar, or Queen consort of Negeri Sembilan, from 1967 to 2008. Additionally, she fulfilled the role of Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia between 1994 and 1999.
Tuanku Najihah was the wife of Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the former Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan. Intriguingly, Tuanku Jaafar was the stepson of Tunku Kurshiah binti Almarhum Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, Tuanku Najihah’s sister, who also held the title of Tunku Ampuan Besar. In 1967, Tuanku Najihah succeeded another sister, Tunku Ampuan Durah, to become Tunku Ampuan Besar.
Born to Tunku Besar Burhanuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Antah, a one-time Regent of Negeri Sembilan, on 1 September 1923, Tuanku Najihah pursued her education at the Tuanku Muhammad School in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan. Her studies also took her to the London School of Oriental Studies. Furthermore, she took a specialized language and training course tailored for diplomats’ wives while her husband, Tuanku Ja’afar, was studying diplomatic services in London.
A committee member of the Associated Country Women of the World, Tuanku Najihah supported numerous women’s organizations. Her patronages included the Girl Guides of Negeri Sembilan, the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council, and the Women’s Institute.
Her passions also extended to sports; she was the president of the Tuanku Ampuan Badminton Team and patron of numerous Malaysian women’s sports teams. Furthermore, she was the inaugural Chancellor of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.
Together with Tuanku Ja’afar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the royal couple had six children:
- Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah, the Tunku Dara (born 26 December 1944)
- Tunku Dato’ Seri Utama Naquiyuddin, the Tunku Laxamana (born 8 March 1947)
- Tunku Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Imran, the Tunku Muda Serting (born 21 March 1949)
- Tunku Puan Sri Jawahir, the Tunku Puteri (born 27 January 1952)
- Tunku Dato’ Seri Irinah, the Tengku Puan Panglima Raja of Selangor (born 23 November 1957)
- Tunku Dato’ Seri Nazaruddin, the Tunku Panglima Besar (born 26 October 1959)
On 8 September 2023, at the age of 100, Tuanku Najihah passed away at the Cardiac Vascular Central Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She was interred at the Seri Menanti Royal Mausoleum, beside her late husband, Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, who had died in 2008.
Awards and Recognitions
Tuanku Najihah was bestowed with numerous honors, both domestically and internationally, such as:
- Honours of Negeri Sembilan: Including Member of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan (DKNS) and Knight Grand Commander of the Grand Order of Tuanku Ja’afar (SPTJ) – Dato’ Seri.
- Honours of Malaysia: As Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia, she received the Order of the Crown of the Realm (DMN). Additionally, she was honored by Kedah and Kelantan.
- Foreign Honours: From Spain, she was given the Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit in 1995.
Her legacy is etched in various places named in her honor, including:
- Tuanku Ampuan Najihah Hospital in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan
- Kompleks Sukan Tunku Najihah at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
- SMK Tunku Ampuan Najihah school in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan
- Taman Sinar Harapan Tuanku Ampuan Najihah and Taman Tuanku Ampuan Najihah residential areas in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.