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Kingdom of Tonga celebrates as George Tupou V is crowned

July 31, 2008
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Fireworks and cannon fire filled the air above Tonga on Friday, as the South Pacific nation celebrated the coronation of King George V. The new monarch was crowned in front of 1,000 guests - including Britain's Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Japanese crown prince Naruhito - at a ceremony in the capital.

The Oxford and Sandhurst-educated king arrived at the church by limousine after wending his way through streets decorated with handwoven mats, balloons, streamers and banners. Seated on a gold throne, he was then annointed with oil and blessed by the Archbishop of Polynesia.

Afterwards church bells rang out and a 21-cannon salute was fired as George V - dressed in silk knee breeches and wearing a ten foot-long, ermine-trimmed cape - emerged to cheers from thousands of well-wishers lining the roads of the island's capital, Nuku'alofa.

The monarch and his guests then enjoyed a lavish lunch, traditional dancing and three balls - one for VVIPs - very very important people - one for VIPs and another for other invitees. The festivities were just the start of four days of celebrations in the 748-square-kilometre kingdom.

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Photo: ©
The newly crowned King George V of Tonga takes to his throne in robes tailored in Savile Row. His father King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, passed away two years agoPhoto: © PA
Photo: ©
The new leader receives the symbol of his kingship after being anointed and blessed by the Archbishop of PolynesiaPhoto: © PA

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