Friday, December 16, 2011

George Tupou V

George Tupou V (Tongan: Siaosi Tupou V, full name: Siaosi Tāufaʻāhau Manumataongo Tukuʻaho Tupou V), (born 4 May 1948) is the current King of Tonga.

Early life
Tupou V was born on 4 May 1948. He is the eldest son of the late King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV (b. 1918 - d. 2006), and Queen Halaevalu Mataʻaho ʻAhomeʻe (b. 1926). He was appointed Crown Prince on 4 May 1966. In daily life, he was better known by one of his traditional chiefly titles Tupoutoʻa.

The king attended primary school in Switzerland and secondary school at King's College in Auckland and The Leys School in Cambridge, and went on to study at Oxford University and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England.

Crown Prince
As Crown Prince, Tupoutoʻa held great influence in Tongan politics, and was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1979 to 1998. He has substantial business interests in Tonga and abroad, and is co-chairman of the Shoreline Group/Tonfön. As king, his first proclamation was that he would dispose of all his business assets as soon as reasonably possible, and in accordance with the law. Tonfön has since been sold, but the King was unable to get rid of the remainder of the Shoreline Group after the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots scared potential buyers from making a deal.

Personal life
The King is unmarried, and has a daughter born out of marriage, 'Ilima Lei Fifita Tohi (born 1974). She married police officer Tulutulumafua i'Olotele Kalaniuvalu in 1997, and has three children. According to the Constitution of Tonga, ʻIlima is ineligible to inherit the throne, as only children born within Royal marriage may take the throne.

Tupou V was sworn in as King on 11 September 2006, which also made him, from a traditional viewpoint, the 23rd Tuʻi Kanokupolu (the overlords of Tongatapu).

Coronation ceremony
The ceremonial aspects of Tupou V's accession to the throne took place in July/August 2008. These were initially to be held in 2007, after the official mourning period for his father (6 months for close relatives) and his own birthday but, after the 2006 Tonga riots, he decided to focus on the reconstruction of the destroyed capital.

During a week of celebrations, two key ceremonies took place to mark Tupou's coronation.

On 30 July 2008, a Taumafa Kava ceremony (royal kava ring) was held on Malaʻe Pangai, the open space to the east of the Royal Palace. During the ceremony the King sat on a pile of handwoven pandanus mats on an open pavilion facing the sea, while more than 200 Tongan nobles and chiefs dressed in woven skirts and sea shells circled him. He wore the traditional Tongan ta'ovala woven mat skirt and a garland of flowers.

During this ceremony, Tupou V was formally recognised as the Tuʻi Kanokupolu, and the rightful descendent of King George Tupou I who united Tonga in the 19th century. The ceremony involved the presentation of kava to the King and assembled chiefs and nobles. Presentations of hundreds of baskets of food as well as 70 cooked pigs were made.

School children held 30,000 torches on this night to proclaim Tupou V's coronation to the world. A tupakapakanava, or traditional torch spectacle, an ancient honour accorded only to the monarch and the royal family, was held later at a spot overlooking the Pacific.

A formal, European-style, coronation ceremony took place on 1 August 2008 in the Centennial Chapel, Nuku’alofa. In an elaborate spectacle, the Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia Jabez Bryce invested Tupou V with the Tongan regalia, including the ring, sceptre and sword, and in the culmination of the ceremony, placed the Tongan Crown on his head. Royalty and nobility from around the world was in attendance.

Relinquishing authority
Three days before his coronation on 1 August 2008, the King announced that he would relinquish most of his power and be guided by his Prime Minister's recommendations on most matters. The Prime Minister would also be in charge of day-to-day affairs. Tupou will still have the powers to appoint judges and commute prison sentences. The King also sold off lucrative business interests as part of the announcement. In addition, the King announced that there would be parliamentary reform and elections in 2010. Fielakepa, the spokesman for the royal palace, said, "The Sovereign of the only Polynesian kingdom ... is voluntarily surrendering his powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of his people ... [The people] favour a more representative, elected Parliament. The king agrees with them."

In July 2010 the government published a new electoral roll and called Tonga's 101,900 citizens to add their names to the document so that they can take part in the historic vote, which was due to be held on 25 November. He would remain head of state, but lose his executive powers, including the ability to appoint the prime minister and ministers. However, it seemed certain that the Monarch would continue to appoint and administer the Judiciary of Tonga for the purposes of assuring political independence and neutrality is retained.

On September 15, 2011, he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic from Pál Schmitt, the president of Hungary.

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