Saturday, August 2, 2008

King Crowned In Tonga

NUKU'ALOFA (AFP) — Tonga's Siaosi Tupou V was crowned king of his tiny South Pacific nation Friday in a lavish, pomp-filled ceremony attended by royalty from around the world alongside Tongans in traditional dress.

The sovereign of Polynesia's last monarchy sat on a huge golden throne, dressed in silk knee-breeches and a regal cloak trimmed with white ermine for the coronation ceremony, held in Nuku'alofa's Centenary Free Wesleyan Church.

Church bells tolled and a 21-cannon salute rang out as the 60-year-old king was crowned, two years after the death of his father, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, who reigned for 41 years.

Around 1,000 guests filled the church and hundreds more sat outside trying to catch a glimpse of the king, known as George Tupou V in English.

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Britain's Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were guests of honour along with regional political leaders and Tongans wearing traditional woven mats around their waists.

Haha, Tonga

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