19 Sep 2006

Funeral of Tongan king under way in Nuku'alofa

1:46 pm on 19 September 2006

The body of the late King of Tonga has been taken from his palace, in Nuku'alofa, on a platform carried by men from all around the country.

The funeral procession was led by the Tongan Defence Forces, with a military band playing while a bell tolled.

Next came Tongan clergy, walking before the king whose body was carried on a roofed platform draped in black velvet.

The royal family was led by the queen and a procession of nobels and Tongan students carrying wreaths.

Dignitaries from the region joined the thousands of Tongans at the funeral, including the Tongan prime minister's brother, Villiami Sevele.

"A great loss for the whole of Tonga and the people, too, because he was a great leader and loved his people."