25 March 2012

The path of the Royal Casket

At 8:20 PM last night, Sunday 26 March (Hong Kong time), His (Late) Majesty King George Tupou V departed on a Chinese aircraft, bound for Tonga. Accompanying the casket is his brother, the new King Tupou VI, his sister, HRH Princess Salote Pilolevu, his customarily adopted daughter, HRH Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Halaevalu Mata'aho (who is the daughter of the new King), and his neice, Hon Salote Maumautaimi Tuku'aho, as well as a retinue of government officials.
Royal bier carriers practice for the funeral tomorrow. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Communications.
Meanwhile, in Tonga, schools have been lining up since early morning to line the (only) road from the airport to the palace in preparation for the funeral party's arrival at 12:30 pm. In the words of the official funeral schedule, "The royal cortege departs from Fua'amotu International Airport through an unbroken line of school children seated on either sides (sic) of Tuku'aho and Taufa'ahau roads, in silent homage to their Beloved Late Monarch."

The procession, which includes the royal family, the Prime Minister, the resident heads of diplomatic missions,  nobles, the Chief Justice, and the Lord Speaker, will wind its way towards town, heralded by the school children and military salutes, to finally stop at the throne room in the Palace. There, the late king will lie-in-state while international VIPs from the Pacific and abroad, and friends of the royal family pay their respects. Tonight, churches will conduct the traditional prayer services always held at funerals, starting with the Free Wesleyan Church at 6PM, and finally concluding at 6AM tomorrow morning.

The funeral itself will commence tomorrow at noon, when over 100 men will bear the Royal Casket on its huge bier from the palace to the Royal Toumbs. The service will be much like a Wesleyan church service, with carefully scripted hymns, scripture lessons, and a sermon by the head of the Wesleyan church, Rev. Dr. 'Ahio.

Until then, each village, Ministry, and church group will continue to bring their puaka toho (literally "pig so large you have to drag it rather than carry it"), yams, tapa, fine mats, money, and other valuables. I have no doubt that there will be hundreds of thousands of dollars- if not millions- worth of gifts, to say nothing of the funeral itself. These will be presented to the Cheifly Undertaker Matapule (talking cheif), who will preside over the gift giving and then present those gifts to VIPs in the funeral, according to custom.

1 comment:

  1. What does the Royal family do with all those gifts? There is no way all that food can be eaten


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