ON the road from Fua’amotu International Airport to Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, the red and white bunting has gathered dust and is starting to look tired.
The miniature flags hang limply on the fences and the arches over each village are beginning to fade three weeks after the coronation of Tupou VI. But the mood in the kingdom is definitely upbeat with the people of the Friendly Islands looking forward to happy times under the rule of their monarch. Tupou VI immediately endeared himself to the people by waiting three years for his coronation, allowing them sufficient time to grow the requisite yams, rear sufficient pigs and create intricate mats and fine gatu needed for the occasion.
Preceded by the eccentric bachelor Tupou V who dressed flamboyantly and travelled on land in a former London cab and in the air by a bright red Beech D18S aircraft, the current king is seen as more in touch with his people. “Tongans really appreciate the way in which His Majesty toned down celebrations around the coronation and the manner in which he involves himself in the community,” says Tonga National Council of Churches general secretary, Kafoa Solomone.
“The fact that the Queen Nanasipau’u is involved in social welfare and development activities at village level and is a genuinely caring person has also helped raise the royal profile.”
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