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August 13, 2008

The New King of Tonga

On August 1st, the Kingdom of Tonga crowned its newest ruler, King George Tupou V. In a ceremony that lasted for days, and cost over $2.5 million (US), the 60-year old King was crowned as one of the few remaining monarchs with true ruling power - but that is about to change. In 2006, pro-democracy riots shook the small island nation of 112,000. The coronation was postponed, and now King George pledges that "The Sovereign of the only Polynesian kingdom... is voluntarily surrendering his powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of his people." He promised to cede most power to a prime minister, and to hold parliamentary elections in 2010. (14 photos total)

The King of Tonga George Tupou V, right, is crowned by His Grace the Archbishop Jabez Bryce in Nuku'aloka,Tonga, Friday, Aug. 1, 2008. The coronation, which included singing by a choir of more than 300, was the first in Tonga since 1967 when King George V's father, the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, ascended to the throne. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald)

Thousands of school children gather for Education Day with The King of Tonga George Tupou V in Nuku'aloka,Tonga, Monday, July 28, 2008. Preparations have begun for a lavish coronation ceremonies starting Wednesday to formally enthrone George V, a hugely ceremonial event that is expected to bring Tonga to a standstill for four days and be watched throughout the region. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Glenn Jeffrey)

Tongan students wearing fa seed necklaces perform the Lakalaka dance for King George Tupou V during the Cultural Day celebrations in the capital, Nuku'alofa on July 29, 2008. The monarch was formally installed as the 23rd ruler of the South Pacific's only absolute aristocracy at a coronation ceremony on August 1. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Tongan nobles wearing 'aofivalas (waist mats) await the arrival of King George Tupou V for the taumafa kava ritual and coronation ceremony in the sacred Pangai Lahi gathering area of Nuku'alofa on July 30, 2008. Consuming a coconut shell of kava in a single motion meant that the monarch formally became the 23rd ruler of the South Pacific's only absolute aristocracy. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Tongan school children perform during Education Day for King George Tupou V in Nuku'aloka,Tonga Monday, July 28, 2008. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Glenn Jeffrey)

Tonga's newly crowned monarch, King Siaosi (George) Tupou V (L, standing in Land Rover), inspects his troops during the Coronation Military Parade in Nuku'alofa on August 2, 2008. The 60-year-old ruler is remaking his former image as an eccentric bachelor prince with a love of elaborate military uniforms into a sovereign leading Polynesia's last kingdom towards democracy. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Tonga's newly crowned monarch, King Siaosi (George) Tupou V, salutes as he departs the Coronation Military Parade in Nuku'alofa on August 2, 2008. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito (2nd L) arrives to join Tonga's crowned monarch, King Siaosi (George) Tupou V, for the Coronation Military Parade in Nuku'alofa on August 2, 2008. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Over 100 slaughtered pigs are offered to King George Tupou V during the taumafa kava ritual and coronation ceremony in the sacred Pangai Lahi gathering area of Nuku'alofa on July 30, 2008. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Tongan school children burn torches during the ancient Tupakapakanava ceremony to honour the coronation of King George Tupou V in Nuku'alofa on July 30, 2008. Some 30,000 torches illuminated the coastline of the archipelago to herald the annointment of the 23rd ruler of the South Pacific's only absolute monarchy. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Tonga's King George Tupou V, seated in his throne, attend his coronation ceremony in the nation's capital city Nuku'alofa August 1, 2008. Amid pealing bells, booming cannons, balloons and cheering children, Tonga crowned its new king on in a British-styled church ceremony, before a congregation of 1,000 that included Tongan, British, Japanese and Thai royalty, as well as South Pacific chiefs and heads of state. (REUTERS/Peter Halmagy)

The newly crowned King of Tonga, George Tupou V is seen in Nuku'aloka,Tonga, Friday, Aug. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald)

King Siaosi (George) Tupou V is driven away on a road covered with mulberry bark tapa from his lavish Christian coronation ceremony at the Centenary Free Wesleyan Church in Nuku'alofa on August 1, 2008. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Reserve Bank of Tonga clerk Selaima Finau displays the just released one hundred pa'anga note featuring the new monarch, King Siaosi (George) Tupou V, in Nuku'alofa on July 31, 2008. All lower denomination notes which carry the face of the late King Tupou IV will be phased out in 2009 and replaced by the updated currency printed by Thomas de la Rue of the UK which carries the portrait of the South Pacific kingdom's new ruler. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

More links and information
Tonga crowns king in lavish rite BBC - 8/01 (with video)
King George Tupou V - Wikipedia Entry
Kingdom of Tonga - Wikipedia Entry
Tonga - Google Map

 
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