20 Mar 2012

Thousands expected in Nuku'alofa for funeral dictated by tradition

8:52 pm on 20 March 2012

One hundred and fifty men will carry the late Tongan King to his final resting place next week.

The Chinese government has chartered a plane to transport George Tupou the Fifth's body back home from Hong Kong where he died on Sunday.

Sally Round reports.

"Once the King's body arrives back in Tonga on Monday, he will lie in state attended by church leaders who will hold prayer services until his funeral on Wednesday. Tradition dictates the King's coffin is then carried to the Royal burial ground by the old boys of Tupou College, a long established school in Tonga. The procession will make its way to the Male'ekula Royal Tombs where at least ten thousand people are expected for a religious burial ceremony. The Tongan government has chartered a ferry to bring chiefs, dignitaries and others to the funeral. Tongans are now in a one hundred day mourning period for the king who has been succeeded by his brother King Tupou the Sixth."