26 Mar 2012

Tonga gets ready to bury late King George Tupou the fifth

7:44 am on 26 March 2012

Tonga will come to a standstill today and tomorrow for the state funeral of King George Tupou the Fifth.

His body is due to arrive in Nuku'alofa from Hong Kong just after midday, accompanied by his brother, the new King, Tupou the Sixth.

At the royal palace, the casket will lie in state overnight.

The chairman of the state funeral committee, Lord Vaea says church services will run all night, schools will keep lighted torches outside the palace fence, and noble families will drink kava as part of the all-night vigil.

On Tuesday morning, foreign delegations, including from New Zealand, will present their respects before the casket is carried to the nearby royal tombs for burial.