1 Aug 2008

King of Tonga crowned

3:22 pm on 1 August 2008

Tonga's King George V has been crowned in a lavish ceremony in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The king, 60, was crowned on a 2.5-metre-high golden throne amid a 21-cannon salute and the tolling of church bells.

About 1,000 guests attended the coronation inside the Centenary Free Wesleyan Church. Hundreds more sat outside.

Visitors included New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Crown Prince of Japan and Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand.

The coronation was originally scheduled for last year, but was delayed because of riots in late 2006 which left eight people dead and dozens of buildings looted and burned.

The new king has already announced plans to move Tonga to a more democratic system of government.

Miss Clark says it is the start of a new era for Tonga.