The Southern Water Tribe Royal Palace is the seat of government in the Southern Water Tribe, housing both the legislative and judicial branches of the local statecraft. Located in the tribe's harbor capital, the palace serves to represent the Southern Water Tribe's autonomy from its Northern counterpart, housing the Council of Chieftains and Elders. After the events of the Water Tribe Civil War, the palace came to serve as the official residence of the tribe's chief and their family. The building is also a testament to the tribe's restoration following the Hundred Year War, boasting elaborate and traditional Water Tribe architecture.
The Southern Water Tribe Royal Palace was built sometime after the end of the Hundred Year War, during the restoration of the Southern Water Tribe by an assembly of Northern Water Tribe citizens led by Master Pakku. Although formal control over the Water Tribes was consolidated to a single chief, the Southern Water Tribe managed to gradually developed into a largely autonomous state, with the palace serving as the seat of local government.
During the Glacier Spirits Festival in 171 AG, a banquet in honor of Chief Unalaq was held inside the palace. The celebration was attended by numerous people, with entertainment provided by Wacky Wushu and his otter penguins. After the occupation of the South by Unalaq shortly after the festival, troops of Northern waterbenders ordered Southern citizens outside of the palace to their homes, before dismissing the chieftains and elders inside under Unalaq's orders.
Threatened by Unalaq's aggressive takeover of the South, Varrick formed the Southern Water Tribe rebels who assembled in Tonraq and Senna's home. They expressed willingness to engage in physical confrontation to maintain Southern independence, prompting Avatar Korra to confront Unalaq in the palace to notify of him of the possibility of civil war. Unalaq explained that war between the tribes would force the other nations to take sides, allowing dark spirits to thrive on the negative energy from the resulting conflict. He went on to tell the Avatar that she was the only individual capable of restoring balance and preventing war.
Soon after this meeting, the Southern Water Tribe rebels attempted to abduct Chief Unalaq, but their efforts were thwarted by Avatar Korra. The rebels were apprehended and sent to prison, where they awaited trial along with Tonraq and Senna. A subsequent tribunal was held in a courtroom located in the palace, where Judge Hotah dismissed charges against Senna. The rest of the accused were deemed guilty for high treason and sentenced to death, before Hotah changed his verdict to life imprisonment, under Unalaq's orders.
Following Unalaq's defeat and Harmonic Convergence, the palace was returned to the Council of Elders, who elected Tonraq as the new chief of the newly independent Southern Water Tribe. From the palace, Korra publicly announced the autonomy from the North and the beginning of a new age marked by the coexistence of humans and spirits. Tonraq and Senna moved into the palace after the former's election as tribal chief. Korra resided in the palace as well during the years she stayed at the South to recover from her mercury poisoning.
The Southern Water Tribe Royal Palace is a freestanding structure elevated off the ground, with numerous towers topped with rounded spires. Although it is entirely white in coloration, the towers appear golden when illuminated by sunlight. Structurally, the palace is built similarly to modern structures present in Republic City, but retains elements attributable to traditional Water Tribe architecture, particularly in its use of ice as foundation and furnishing. The exterior is lined with a series of long, rectangular windows as well as circular windows. A gateway leads to a courtyard located at the center of the palace, which is connected to the numerous chambers inside the building with corridors that have elaborate arches at their entrances.
Inside, the palace contains enormous halls and retains an intricate array of wings and chambers. Tapestries and moldings bearing the tribal insignia and numerous cultural symbols are laid all throughout the numerous sections of the structure. White lamps attached to the pillars and golden chandeliers on the roof are used to light the interior.
One hallway led to a throne room that was used by the Chief of the Water Tribes during his visits to the South. The room itself was sparsely furnished, with a single throne carved of ice located on an elevated platform in front of the chamber. Three large moldings of the Water Tribe emblem were visible on three arches directly behind the throne.
Another hallway leads to a courtroom used in legal proceedings, with numerous benches for public seating located in the back. A large bench overlooking the jurist's platform is placed in the front of the chamber for the accused. Three large Water Tribe insignias are hung on the wall directly behind the jurist's platform.
When it is not used for legal proceedings, the courtroom is repurposed to serve as a banquet hall for large scale celebrations, such as the royal feast during the Glacier Spirits Festival. During these events, the public benches used in the courtroom are removed and replaced with numerous dining tables. In addition, several strings of lantern are hung from the ceiling.