26 Mar 2012

Vigil underway for late Tongan King in Nuku'alofa

8:39 pm on 26 March 2012

The body of Tonga's late King George Tupou the 5th is now lying in state at the Royal Palace in the centre of Nuku'alofa.

An all night vigil, the takipo, began at 6pm at the Palace and the surrounding area.

Our reporter Karen Mangnall says the takipo involves three main elements.

"There will be fairly much non stop church services, in churches in the immediate area and the area around the Palace. There will also be students keeping vigil around the outside of the Palace fence with lit torches which they are responsible for keeping alight all night. And all the local families will be holding kava ceremonies of their own in locations around the outside of the Palace grounds. Inside the Palace grounds, behind the Palace and the neighbouring area the Royal Family have set up tents for hospitality where they will be providing for all the guests who will be keeping vigil overnight."