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The Royal Tour - 1953

From: "The Royal Tour" by Neil Ferrier -  Printed in U.K. 1954
(click on images to enlarge)

Queen Salote Tubou in the gardens
 of her palace at Nukualofa

Queen Salote escorts her Royal guest ashore
 followed by the Crown Prince

Her Majesty arrives for Sunday Morning Service
at the Wesleyan Church and is greeted by the Minister

Farewell to the Friendly Islands. 
Her Majesty is accompanied by Queen Salote down the steps of the decorated wharf before re-embarking in the Gothic to journey on to New Zealand.

One of the highlights of the two-day Royal visit to Tonga was the great ceremonial feast of welcome at which yams and sucking pig were among the dishes served. Here the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh followed the local custom of feasting seated on mats and of eating with the fingers.
Tonga consists of one hundred and fifty islands set in the Pacific Ocean which form a self-governing kingdom under British protection. The islands were visited by Captain Cook in 1777, and it was he who gave them their second and well-deserved name of the Friendly Islands. Today Tonga forms a happy and prosperous community under the benevolent rule of Queen Salote. It has a living link with the past in the person of Tui Malila, the venerable tortoise, believed to have been presented to a Tongan Chief by Captain Cook. Tui Malila is treated with great respect by the people of the islands, and was duly presented to the Royal Visitors.


Leaving Fiji on December 19th in the same flying-boat, the Aotearoa, the Queen set out for Tonga about three hours distant.
The Tonga or Friendly Islands with a population of 49.000 have been ruled by the dynasty of which Queen Salote is the present representative for nearly one hundred and ten years. In the whole of the South Pacific hers is the only monarchy that still survives, but as we saw at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, Queen Salote has the kind of personality that breathes new life into old institutions. Hers is a benevolent rule exercised under British protection and influenced largely by the sincere Methodism which is her religion and that of the majority of her subjects. 
To this day, for instance, is observed the old enactment which says "The Sabbath Day shall be sacred in Tonga for ever and it shall not be lawful to do work or play games on the Sabbath".
This unhurried tempo of life so rarely met with in the modern world - and symbolised rather delightfully by the still-living tortoise, Tui Malila, claimed to be a present from Captain Cook - was the keynote of the royal visit.
Queen Salote herself was on the quayside to welcome Queen Elizabeth. A shower of rain, which set them both laughing as they remembered the Coronation downpour, soon had a sympathetic crowd smiling and laughing too. Then came the feast. In four rows about 100 yards long the food was set out, yams, lobsters, fruit, two thousand sucking pigs; coconuts -rich reservoirs of sweet milk- the only drink available. At the head of the feast sat the two royal families, eating like the rest with their fingers, talking animatedly, listening to speeches, watching spear and paddle dances. It was a delightful interlude and afterwards there was time for the Duke to go sailing and for the Queen to rest.
That night four hundred Tongans took it in turns to provide a torchlight guard of a hundred round the palace. 
A happy country this, where each man is entitled to a fixed amount of land in both town and country and where even the news can be had on a free newsheet.
Next day was Sunday and the two Queens went together to the great stone church where the Duke read the Lesson and the choir sang hymns and a fragment by Bach with a moving sweetness and conviction. A visit to a hospital and a picnic lunch brought to an end this idyllic interlude, and a tearful Queen Salote waved farewell to her visitors from the launch in which she had accompanied the Gothic five miles out to sea.



Well met again! Queen Salote, who won the hearts of the British people when she came to London for the Coronation in 1953, now welcomes the royal couple to her own realm.
 Behind her stands the Crown Prince, H.R.H. Prince Tungi, who is both heir to the throne and Prime Minister

Driving to Queen Salote's palace in Nukualofa, the Royal car passes beneath a striking ceremonial arch erected by the students of Tupou College

Queen Salote four-year old granddaughter, who bears the impressive name of Mele Siuilikutapu, offers a basket of island flowers with charming grace

The great feast of welcome.
The royal party approach the feast house, walking over a carpet of tapa cloth

Arriving at the feast house the Queen admires
the rich array of native dishes prepared in her honour

Happy islanders at the great feast of welcome
held in the Qeen's honour

A Tongan flame-fisher spears the fish
attracted to the surface by his torch

Arriving for morning service at the Wesleyan Church in Nukualofa,
the Queen is welcomed by the Minister

Queen Salote introduces her guests to the oldest inhabitant
of her kingdom - the venerable tortoise believed to have been
brought as a gift by Captain Cook when he visited 
these "Friendly Islands" in 1777

And so farewell.
Wearing a garland of island flowers, the Queen prepares to embark on the next stage of her journey at the conclusion of a memorable visit to this well-favoured kingdom and its gracious ruler

Versione Italiana - Italian Version

Ufficio del Turismo di Tonga in Italia
e-mail: info@tongaturismo.info