11 Sep 2006

Preparations under way in Tonga for royal burial of King

1:47 pm on 11 September 2006

Preparations are under way in Tonga for the royal burial of King Taufau'ahau the Fourth who died last night.

The king had been unwell for close to a year and spent most of that time in a hospital in Auckland where he passed away.

Our correspondent in Nuku'alofa, Mateni Tapueluelu, says details are yet to be publicly announced about the funeral but people are already paying their respects.

"People are already wearing black, a sign of respect for the death of the king, particularly the civil servants. There is already some buildings in the Nuku'alofa area dressed up in black as well and the royal burial ground has been prepared, that is being cleaned and they've started mowing the area. Obviously a preparation for the return of the king and for his royal burial. There is no indication yet of the official mourning period but people expect it won't be less than a month."

Mateni Tapueluelu.

Tonga's chief justice says the King's eldest son was sworn in as the new monarch.