27 Mar 2012

Foreign dignitaries pay respects in Tonga

11:59 am on 27 March 2012

Foreign dignitaries have been paying their respects to the late King of Tonga, George Tupou the Fifth who is lying in state at Tonga's Royal Palace.

The funeral procession to the royal burial ground is due to start about midday.

Karen Mangnall reports from Nuku'alofa.

"The casket and the Chief Undertaker Lawaki will be placed on a large covered platform called a fata and they'll be carried by 150 pallbeareres who traditionally are former students of Tupou College and Tonga High School and there'll be other volunteers as well. the distance to the Royal Tombs from the Royal Palace is only about half a kilometre but it will be a very slow procession because the platform is extremely heavy and each pallbearer can only go a few metres before he needs to be replaced by another pallbearer."