Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Death of King George Tupou V

photo from

Tonga's King George Tupou V died last Sunday at age 63 in a hospital in Hong Kong. So what does that mean for Tonga?

Well, for starters there is going to be a three month mourning period ending on June 19th. Several things will occur during this period:
  • everyone will be wearing black
  • no loud music
  • no bars
  • no sporting events
  • only church songs on the radio
  • no celebrations
The hardest part for me will be wearing black...thankfully I have several black shirts and skirts to get me through the three months, but it will require laundry at least a couple times a week. I am also disappointed about the cancellation of sports. The all-island track and field competition has already been cancelled and it looks like rugby and netball will be cancelled as well.

When the king's body comes back to Tonga on Monday, people living on the main island will line the road from the airport to pay their respects to the king. The funeral will be held on Tuesday and he will be buried at the royal burial grounds. The nobles and their respective villages are responsible for sending gifts of ngatu (tapa cloth), pigs, yams, and money. These are traditional gifts for any funeral, but will be even more extravagant for the king's funeral. Monday and Tuesday are both public holidays for the whole country, so there will be no school and businesses will be closed.

Here's to three months of mourning and a monochromatic wardrobe....looking forward to June 19th.


  1. Won't it be interesting looking back on a more historical approach to mourning - we read about these times, but have never experienced it first-hand. I pray the transition time will be peaceful.

  2. Will Rachel have to wear black when she's there too?