In fact, it's not just the foreign news sources that look upon the marriage with skepticism, it's also close members of the royal family; the HRH Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata'aho and the current King's sister, HRH Princess Pilolevu were conspicuously absent from the past week's celebrations. This caused general scandal and also quite a bit of sadness from the general public, dismayed to see the royal family so divided after most have been thrilled to see the practical and considerate approach the new King has taken since commencing his rule.
|The huge wedding tent was supplemented by two additional side wings of tents to accommodate all the guests|
The wedding reportedly had over 2,000 guests from all around Tonga and the world, all congregating in the lawn in front of the palace right in the centre of Nuku'alofa and only a block away from my office. As I rode to and from work, I looked every day at the detritus of the previous evening's event and feast - broken chairs, tables, strands of tiny lights, all waiting for the next evening when everything would be swept up and made gorgeous again for the next event.
|Special bottles labeled with "In honour of the Royal Wedding" lined each table|
Like most Tongan weddings, the church wedding was held on a Thursday, while the royal couple were married by the state the previous Tuesday; Tuesdays and Thursdays being the most appropriate and auspicious days to get married. The last day of the celebrations was yesterday, in a "First Sunday" service where, as custom dictates, the couple goes to church for the first time as a married couple and then goes home to live together for the first time. Along with a much hushed up tradition involving a sheet, this fact causes a lot of winks and blushes to be traded around the "First Sunday" among young people in many commoner weddings. I have no idea whether similar conversations happened last week, but for the sake of their majesties' royal dignity, I won't guess.
|Fine china and fresh coconuts graced the feast tables|
|A huge bowl of....|
So, we dug in. As I chew through my third or fourth bite and am just about to consider taking seconds, I hear the family who prepared the table ask the woman next to me, in Tongan, "would you like some of the turtle?" motioning to the delicacy I had just been gluttonously shoveling in to my mouth. I froze. I remembered one of my favourite books when I was a kid: Narnia's the Silver Chair. After having fought and lived alongside talking animals for the last two hundred pages, the main characters find themselves eating the most delicious venison at a guest's table. After having eaten most of their portions, they overhear a conversation at the next table revealing they've been eating a talking stag.
|As the programme came to a close, many had already started to doze|
|The Tongan Police force were out in full dress|
|We could look far, far up at front and see HRH the Crown Prince and his bride as well as the King and Queen|
|Kids entertained themselves through the programme|