George Tupou V

George Tupou V
King of Tonga
Reign 11 September 2006 – 18 March 2012
Coronation 1 August 2008
Predecessor Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
Successor Tupou VI
Prime Ministers
Born (1948-05-04)4 May 1948
Tongatapu, Tonga
Died 18 March 2012(2012-03-18) (aged 63)
Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong
Burial Mala'ekula
Full name
Siaosi Tāufaʻāhau Manumataongo Tukuʻaho
House House of Tupou
Father Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
Mother Halaevalu Mataʻaho ʻAhomeʻe
Religion Free Wesleyan Church

George Tupou V (Tongan: Siaosi Tupou, full name: Siaosi Tāufaʻāhau Manumataongo Tukuʻaho Tupou; 4 May 1948  18 March 2012) was the King of Tonga[1] from the death of his father Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV in 2006 until his own death six years later.

Early life and education

Tupou V was born on 4 May 1948. He was the eldest son of King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV (1918–2006) and Queen Halaevalu Mataʻaho ʻAhomeʻe (born 1926). '.

Tupou V attended King's School and King's College, both in Auckland. This was followed by periods at The Leys School in Cambridge, and another school in Switzerland.[2] He also studied at Oxford University and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England.[3]

Crown Prince

Tupou V was appointed Crown Prince on 4 May 1966. In that role, he was better known by one of his traditional chiefly titles, 'Tupoutoʻa

In 1974, though unmarried, Tupou V had a daughter, 'Ilima Lei Fifita Tohi. In 1997 she married police officer Tulutulumafua i'Olotele Kalaniuvalu, and has three children. According to the Constitution of Tonga, ʻIlima is ineligible to accede to the throne as only children born of a royal marriage may succeed.[4]

As Crown Prince, Tupoutoʻa held great influence in Tongan politics, and was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1979 to 1998. He had substantial business interests in Tonga and abroad, and was 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 had since been sold, but the King was unable during his lifetime to rid himself of the remainder of the Shoreline Group after the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots scared potential buyers from making a deal.


Royal Monogram of King George V of Tonga
Styles of
King George Tupou V of Tonga
Reference style His Majesty
ko ʻene ʻafio
Spoken style Your Majesty
ko hoʻo ʻafio
Alternative style Sir

The King was recognised as a descendant of the sky god Tangaloa.[5] He was sworn in as King Tupou V on 11 September 2006,[6] which also made him, from a traditional viewpoint, the 23rd Tuʻi Kanokupolu (the overlords of Tongatapu).


The ceremonial aspects of Tupou V's accession took place in July and August 2008. These were initially to be held in 2007 after the six-month official mourning period for his father (as required of close relatives) and his own birthday. They were also deferred after the 2006 Tonga riots as he decided to focus instead on reconstruction of the damaged capital.[7]

During the week of celebrations, two key ceremonies took place to mark Tupou V's coronation. On 30 July 2008, a Taumafa Kava (Royal Kava Ring ceremony) was held on Malaʻe Pangai, the open space to the east of the Royal Palace. During the ceremony, Tupou V sat on a pile of handwoven pandanus mats in 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 having kava, hundreds of baskets of food, and seventy cooked pigs presented to the King and the assembly of chiefs and nobles,[8]

Later that night, schoolchildren held 30,000 torches to proclaim the coronation in what is known as a tupakapakanava.[8] The traditional torch spectacle was held that time at a spot overlooking the Pacific and is an ancient honour reserved solely for the Tongan sovereign and Royal Family.[9]

A second, European-style coronation ceremony took place on 1 August 2008 in the Centennial Chapel, Nuku’alofa.[10] Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia Jabez Bryce invested George Tupou V with the Tongan regalia: the ring, sceptre and sword. In the culmination of the ceremony, Archbishop Bryce placed the Tongan Crown on the monarch's head.[10] Royalty and nobility from around the world were in attendance.[11]

Relinquishing most authority

A documentary dated June 2004 by Australian journalist Gillian Bradford identifies some of the challenges facing Tongan society, but also shows that King George was in favour of a gradual transition to more extensive democracy in Tonga. In the interview, the Crown Prince, as he then was, points out that free speech in Tonga was protected by the Constitution.[12]

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.[13] The Prime Minister would also be in charge of day-to-day affairs.[14] Tupou V would still have the powers to appoint judges and commute prison sentences.[15] The King also sold off lucrative business interests as part of the announcement.[16] In addition, the King announced that there would be parliamentary reform and elections in 2010.[17] 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."[16]

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.[18] However, it seemed certain that the Monarch would continue to appoint and administer the Judiciary of Tonga for the purposes of assuring that political independence and neutrality were retained.[19]

On 24 February 2012, he visited pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City.[20][21]

During his reign, George Tupou V oversaw reforms within the Tongan honours system which both expanded the number of Orders in the Kingdom and created rules to make the award of these Orders more egalitarian.

Illness and death

The casket of King George Tupou V being carried to the Tombs.

In September 2011, Tupou V had surgery to remove a kidney following the discovery of a tumour.[22]

On 15 September 2011 he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary from Pál Schmitt, the president of Hungary.[23] In February 2012 the King received the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I from Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro. During his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he had been made an officer of France's Legion of Honour.

Matangi Tonga reported that George Tupou V died from leukemia at 15:15 HKT on 18 March 2012 at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong,[24] though governing institutions in Tonga did not immediately confirm it. His brother and heir presumptive Tupouto'a Lavaka was at the hospital when he died.[3]

Domestic Reactions

A statement was due following a cabinet meeting the day after his death. Radio Australia reported that Tonga's largest religious organisation, the Free Wesleyan Church, said it would hold a prayer service at the queen mother's residence in Nuku'alofa.[22] Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano later made a national address calling on the people of Tonga to pray for the royal family and the country, according to Radio New Zealand.

International Reactions


Following the official announcement of the passing of King George Tupou V and giving the Proclamation of the New King, Tupou VI, His Majesty's Cabinet set up a Committee for the organization of the state funeral of the King. Lord Vaea became the Chairman of the Committee. The King's body arrived on 26 March 2012, then lay in state at the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa for a day.[30] The funeral, originally announced for 28 March 2012, was rescheduled to 27 March 2012.[30]

Selected foreign dignitaries were invited by the Committee to attend the funeral, including the Governor General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, and the Governor-General of New Zealand, Jerry Mateparae. Royal guests at the ceremony included Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Prince Hitachi of Japan and his wife, Princess Hitachi.[30][31]


National Honours

Foreign Honours


See the Tongan language page and ancestor's page ...


  1. "Tongan monarch dies at 63" The Australian
  2. Crowning glory or a costly folly? George Tupou V's coronation divides Tonga The Sunday Times, 29 July 2008
  3. 1 2 Tonga king dies in Hong Kong hospital – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English
  4. Jane Phare (17 September 2006). "The madness of King George of Tonga". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 October 2006.
  5. "His Majesty King George Tupou V of Tonga". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 March 2012.
  6. Tongan Government Gazette Publication 20 and Gazette Publication 19 It might be argued that he became King on his swearing in (11 September, midday), or on the death of his father the night before. However, although the death of his father occurred on 10 September at 23:34 in New Zealand, Siaosi was in Tonga, where the time was 0:34, 11 September.
  7. user account | Matangi Tonga Online
  8. 1 2 "King of Tonga crowned". TV New Zealand. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  9. "Gutted pigs and narcotic drinks welcome new king of Tonga". The Guardian. London. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  10. 1 2 Tedmanson, Sophie (1 August 2008). "Lavish coronation ceremony for new King of Tonga". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  11. "Tonga's Coronation celebrations". The Guardian (UK). London. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  12. Gillian Bradford, ABC,
  13. "Tonga's king to cede key powers", BBC, 29 July 2008
  14. McMahon, Barbara (29 July 2008). "Tongan king promises 'more democracy' for Pacific island". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  15. "Tongan king to give up absolute rule". CNN. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  16. 1 2 "Feudal monarch agrees to give up much of his power". The New Zealand Herald. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  17. "His Majesty King George Tupou V- A Monarch for a time of change". Fiji Daily Post. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  18. King of Tonga prepares to give up power
  19. "Privy Council establishes Commission of Inquiry". Government of Tonga. 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  20. Benedetto XVI riceve in udienza il re di Tonga
  21. Benedetto XVI riceve il re di Tonga
  22. 1 2 "Tonga's reformist king dies aged 63". Kathmandu Post. 19 March 2012.
  23. Rajong a magyarokért a Schmitt Pál által kitüntetett király
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  29. Obama, Barack (19 March 2012). "Statement by the President on the Passing of King George Tupou V of Tonga" (Press release). The White House. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  30. 1 2 3 Tahana, Yvonne (24 March 2012). "Change of day for King's funeral upsets expat Tongans". The New Zealand Herald.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Royal Ark, Tonga – Tupou 10
  37. 1 2
  50. Royal Ark

External links

George Tupou V
House of Tupou
Born: 4 May 1948 Died: 18 March 2012
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
King of Tonga
Succeeded by
Tupou VI
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