Tongan royal family members residing in territory invited to King’s coronation
Local business owners Su’a Carl and Salote “Starr” Schuster will be departing the territory today, as they have received an invitation to attend the coronation of His Majesty King Tupou VI in the Kingdom of Tonga. Celebrations will officially kick off on Saturday, June 27.
According to reports from Tonga, over one thousand dancers representing various schools around the island held their final rehearsals in the presence of Queen Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho and Dr. Adrienne L. Kaeppler an author, anthropologist and Curator of Oceanic Ethnology from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
The coronation program is an eight-day event that begins with the King's investiture as the 24th Tu‘i Kanokupolu at a Royal Kava ceremony, the Taumafa Kava, at the Mala‘e Pangai Lahi this Saturday.
Between June 27 and July 7, the agenda will include a military parade, cultural performances and feasting. The celebrations will culminate with a Military Tattoo on July 7, which has been proclaimed a public holiday.
The official program for the Coronation starts on the 27th of June and ends on Monday the 6th of July. The guest list includes Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako. Samoa News understands that Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and First Lady Cynthia Moliga have also been invited, although it is unclear if they will be in attendance.
D'Arcy Wood, a retired Methodist Minister who was born in Tonga and now lives in Australia, will officially crown the King per a request from the King's High Chamberlain last year.
According to Tongan law, no Tongan citizen can perform the coronation ceremony, as it is forbidden for a Tongan to touch the King's head. The coronation ceremony includes anointing the King's head with oil, presenting the Bible as the King takes the oath, and the official crowning.
King George Tupou VI, born Aho’eitu ‘Unuaki’otonga Tuku’aho Tupou, assumed the throne in 2012 after the passing of his brother King Tupou V, but he has yet to be officially crowned.
He and his sister Princess Salote Pilolevu are the last surviving children of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV who passed away in 2006.
The Tongan royal family is the only one in all of Oceania and American Samoa will be represented at the momentous occasion by Su'a and Salote Schuster.
Salote, known to many as "Starr", is a cousin to the King. Yesterday, Starr told Samoa News that over the years, people have always wondered what her relationship is — if any — to the Tongan Royal Family. Some have even scoffed at the validity that Tongan royalty could be related to a native of American Samoa.
Starr and her husband Su'a have received their share of invitations — not only for the coronation ceremony but also other events leading up to and following the actual crowning — and they are looking forward to joining their family in the Kingdom for "this historic occasion."
The couple was also invited to, and attended, the coronation of the late King George Tupou V, the brother of the new King.
"To all the progenitors of our great ancestors, namely Tuipelehake and Su'apaia, my attendance is a representation of all of you here locally and abroad, who are unable to be in Tonga for this important occasion," Starr wrote in a statement.
"I want you to know that you will be thought of, and I will extend your regards to the family,” she added.
Starr said the members of the family in Pelehake and Fahefa villages have made contact with her, and they are awaiting her arrival to finalize the preparation of a "koloa" that will be presented to the Royal Family, as their contribution for the occasion.
King George Tupou VI is the head of the Kingdom of he and Starr's great, great grandfather Alipate Halakilangi Taualupeoko Tuipelehake, the son of Filiaipulotu Tuipelehake and Salote Mafila'o Pilolevu, the only daughter of King George Tupou I.
His Majesty King George Tupou VI is the direct descendant of the late King George Tupou I, who started the dynasty in the 19th century.
The Tongan Royal Family does indeed have strong connections to the Samoan Islands, as the grandson of King Tupou I, Alipate Tuipelehake, married Taiana Su'apaia of Savaii and together, they bore a son named Saimasina, the ancestor of Starr and the new King.
"Tonga's monarchy can trace its history back 1,000 years," Starr explained. "By the 13th century, the nation wielded power and influence over surrounding islands, including Samoa."
King George Tupou I was proclaimed King in 1845 after gaining control of the monarchy from two other royal lines. By 1900, the country had become a British protectorate and only acquired its independence in 1970. It remains the only monarchy in the South Pacific.
"In closing, my husband and I, with our children and the Tuipelehake-Su'apaia clan, would like at this time to extend our love, our blessing, and the grace of God upon His Royal Majesty and Royal Queen Nanasipau'u during their coronation and their reign in our beloved Kingdom. Ketu'uloa ae pule a Tupou. Malo aupito, ofa atu," Starr concluded.