25 Feb 2004

Thousands pay their respects to Tongan prince

4:11 pm on 25 February 2004

There are estimates that around six thousand people attended the funeral of the Tongan prince, Noble Ma'atu, at Mala'ekula today.

Noble Ma'atu, who died last week at the age of 48, was the second son of King Taufa Ahau Tupou 4th.

The route of the funeral cortege this morning from the Crown Prince's villa to the Royal Tomb at Mala'ekula was lined by hundreds of students from fifteen schools.

A local reporter says around thousands more people were at Mala'ekula for the funeral.

The mourners included relatives of the King from Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa, and representatives from all the countries with missions in Tonga.

The Prime Minister's Office has directed that flags should fly at half mast today to mark the death.