31 JULY 2008

Having been two years in the planning, the coronation of Tonga's King George Tupou V is likely to be one to remember. The monarch of the South Pacific nation has planned a £1.6 million celebration starting August 1, which includes four days of official ceremonies, a military parade, an open air concert and spectacular firework displays.

Prior to the Friday ceremony, to which Elton John, Mick Jagger and Elle Macpherson have been invited, the king honoured statesman and dignitaries in a formal investiture presentation at the royal palace in Nuku'alofa on Thursday.

The island nation's head of state - whose title dates back to the 17th century - is a colourful character with a penchant for Savile Row suits and travelling his 748-square-kilometre kingdom in a bespoke London taxi.

Oxford and Sandhurst-educated, he reads music, plays the piano and speaks French and German, as well as a smattering of Japanese and Chinese, according to an official release.

"One is what one is," he said recently. "One doesn't see much point talking about it."

Photo: ©
Dressed in military regalia the soon-to-be King George V presides over an investiture ceremony on Thursday, the day before his coronation Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
The Tongan head of state, pictured with his niece Princess Mele Siu'ilikutapu, has invited Elton John, Mick Jagger and Elle Macpherson to share in the festivities Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
The new king, who was educated at Oxford and Sandhurst and has a penchant for Savile Row suits, presents an honour to the island's consul to Australia Photo: © Getty Images
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