Preparing for the Coronation of King George Tupou V

This week, Tonga is crowning a King. He’s not a new King. In fact, he’s been the King for almost two

years, but is just now having the official coronation ceremony. Some newspaper accounts have estimated that 4000-5000 people may come to the country for the coronation. If that happens, it would be the most people ever to visit the Kingdom of Tonga at the same time.

The activities are already underway throughout the Kingdom with most of the activity centered in the capital city of Nuku’alofa. The actual coronation takes place on Friday.

Millions of dollars have been spent on a new throne for the King, a coronation robe and all of the preparations. However, the government says the money is worth it because of the boost it is giving the Tongan economy.

The Tonga Prime Minister's Office is also now promoting the 60 year old bachelor King as an architect of change who wants to make the Tongan Government more open.

After the coronation, the King will be visiting all of the island groups and each island has its own plans to welcome the King. Here in Vava’u, there will be a huge Kava ceremony and many of the villages will be performing traditional Tongan dances for his Majesty King George Tupou V.

In Leimatu’a, which is the second largest village in Vava’u, the town officer's son has written a 10 minute song. The men of the village have spent just about every day rehearsing the dance to that song. The women will also do their own dance. My fellow Peace Corps volunteer Sarah lives in Leimatu’a and will be one of those dancing for the King when he comes to Vava'u in mid-August.

There are many rumors about who will be attending the coronation…everyone from Elton John to President George Bush. However, neither of those is listed on the official coronation website as attending. The New York Times has an interesting story about the ballet that will be performed as part of the festivities.

I leave tomorrow (Wednesday) to fly to Nuku’alofa. Peace Corps has given outer island volunteers permission to attend the events without taking vacation time. I’m looking forward to attending. In my former career in TV News I covered many events but never a coronation. This will be a first for me. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you after it is over.

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  1. Fiji's indigenous government has been overthrown by a military coup and the courts closed. How does the king feel about the Fijian government and Peace Corps working closely with the military junta?