Tonga: A burial ceremony fit for a king


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The Independent Online

Hundreds of pall bearers, wearing black clothes and traditional woven skirts, carry the flag-draped casket of King George Tupou V on a black and gold catafalque from Tonga's Royal Palace at the start of the funeral procession through the capital, Nuku'alofa, yesterday.

The death of the monacle-wearing king, who had a penchant for flamboyant military uniforms and driving around in a London taxi, had engulfed the country in a "black stormcloud", Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano said.

The funeral ceremony mixed Christian traditions with Tongan rituals. Mourners were required to wear nothing but black, and many wore traditional skirt mats, known as ta'ovala. King George was 63 when he died at a hospital in Hong Kong last week.