27 Mar 2012

Late King of Tonga will be buried today

7:41 am on 27 March 2012

The late Tongan King, George Tupou the Fifth will be buried today in the royal tombs in Nuku'alofa.

Churches, nobles and students have been holding an overnight vigil outside the Royal Palace where the late King is lying in state.

Thousands of Tongans will be joined for the burial ceremony by foreign dignitaries, including a large New Zealand delegation.

The chairman of the state funeral committee, Lord Vaea, says the burial procession is due to start at midday once all the foreign dignitaries have paid their respects.

"Then the procession moves from the lying state being carried by roughly about 150 pall-bearers from the palace led by the military and the royal band and the royal chaplain and the undertaker to the tombs."

Lord Vaea says there will be a church service before the King is buried.