King George Tupou

March 27, 2012 by staff 

King George Tupou, Homes swathed in purple and black formed a bright bow running from the countryside to cities of Tonga as the mourning nation honoured and buried their late King George Tupou V on Tuesday.

That so many took the care to adorn their homes and businesses testifies to the reverence Tongans give to the idea of the monarchy, even after Tupou ceded many of his own powers in 2008 to usher in a new era of democracy.

But his March 18 death is also raising questions about whether his younger brother, Tupou VI, will continue his legacy. The new king is seen by many here as being more conservative than his predecessor, and some fear he could stall or even reverse the political progress made in this small Pacific island nation. However, the new king does bring with him a wealth of political experience.

The centerpiece of Tuesday’s funeral ceremony was a procession of 1,000 men who took turns shouldering an enormous catafalque which carried the king’s coffin.

The men marched through a line of some 5,000 children in the capital Nuku’alofa, taking the coffin from the royal palace to the royal tombs. Girls from Queen Salote College sat in the burial grounds for hours, beautifully turned out in bright blue dresses and braided hair.

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