27 Mar 2012

Tonga gets ready to farewell late King

12:00 pm on 27 March 2012

Tongan dignitaries are paying their respects to Tonga's late King George Tupou the Fifth.

Thousands of people are expected to attend today's funeral.

Megan Whelan is in Nuku'alofa.

"The late King has been lying in state at the palace since his arrival in the Kingdom yesterday. This morning diplomatic representatives are paying their respects along with the Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano. The visitors to the palace this morning include the Duke of Gloucester, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Samoa's head of state Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese, and Prince and Princess Hitachi of Japan. Niuan Premier Toke Talagi, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, along with King Tuheitia will also pay their respects before the state funeral. The funeral begins at 12:00 with a royal cortege led by the guard of honour, clergy and members of the royal family including King Tupou the 6th and Queen Nanasipau'u."