27 Apr 2016

Royal rivalry affects Wallis May Day events

12:46 pm on 27 April 2016

Traditional May Day celebrations in Wallis and Futuna have been thrown into disarray after two rival sets of royal families have each installed a king.

Mata'Utu cathedral next to the Sagato Soane Palace.

Mata'Utu cathedral next to the Sagato Soane Palace. Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

The day's church service is usually followed by a customary celebration attended by the king and top church dignitaries, but the Catholic church said it will not join the traditional event this year.

Nearly two weeks ago, Tominiko Halagahu was made the new king but a rival council of chiefs enthroned Patalione Kanimoa two days later to fill a two-year vacancy.

The French prefect has so far refused to recognise any of the new monarchs and appealed to both camps to observe the law.

The territory's public broadcaster said this meant that on Sunday, both kings would have separate ceremonies in separate venues but without a church presence.

It said in Mua the cardinal will hold mass, and in Hahake the bishop will hold mass, with each of the services followed by a royal ceremony.

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