Raja Syed Harrun Putra ibni Syed Hassan Jamalullail was the son of Syed Hassan bin Syed Mahmud Jamalullail (1897–1935), sometime Bakal Raja or heir presumptive to the throne of Perlis, by his commoner wife Wan Teh binti Wan Endut (d. 1952). Born in Arau, he was educated at the Arau Malay School and later at Penang Free School between 1937 and 1939. At the age of 18, he joined the Perlis administrative service, becoming a magistrate and in 1940, was transferred to Kuala Lumpur to serve as Second Magistrate in the Criminal Court.
On December 4, 1945 the British proclaimed Syed Putra as sixth Raja of Perlis. He was installed on March 12, 1949.
Tuanku Syed Putra during his installation in 1949
Raja Syed Putra was elected Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the Malay rulers and served in that office from April 14, 1960 until the death of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah on September 1, 1960.
Raja Syed Putra was elected third Yang di-Pertuan Agong of independent Malaya and served in that office from September 21, 1960. He was installed at Istana Negara on January 4, 1961. On September 16, 1963 upon the proclamation of the Malaysian Federation comprising Malaya, British Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, he became Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. He completed his term of office on September 20, 1965.
He died at the National Heart Institute, Kuala Lumpur on April 16, 2000. At that time, he was the longest reigning monarch in the world, a position he inherited from Prince Franz Joseph II of Liechtenstein in 1989. He was buried at the Royal Mausoleum in Arau, Perlis.
Tuanku Syed Putra married twice:
and in 1952 to Che Puan Mariam (née Riam Pessayanavin; 1924–1985) by whom he had three sons and one daughter. She was Miss Thailand in 1939.