Monday, September 11, 2006

According to an official news release on the Tongan Royal Palace website, His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV passed away peacefully at 11.34pm local time (2334 UTC), on Sunday, 10th September at Mercy Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand aged 88.

King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was the ruler of Tonga following the death of his mother, Queen S?lote Tupou III, in 1965. His wife was Queen Halaevalu Mata?aho ?Ahome?e, born in 1926. The couple had four children.

“The sun has set in the Kingdom of Tonga,” said an official government statement from the royal palace.

His death ends 41 years of his reign.

The capital, Nukua’alofa, was draped in black and purple, the official colours of mourning.

His state funeral is expected to be held on September 19. An official month of mourning was declared.

His body will be flown home on Wednesday, September 13.

The Kingdom of Tonga was stricken into mourning earlier this year, when in July, Prince Tu’ipelehake and his wife Princess Kaimana, along with their driver Vinisia Hefa, were killed when their vehicle was stuck by a speeding car on a San Francisco, California, USA highway.

King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was once known as being the World’s heaviest monarch (his weight exceeded 200 kg then), as well as later being the victim of a number of money-making schemes.

Crown Prince Taufa’ahau Tupou V, the King’s eldest son, was sworn in on Monday, September 11 as the next king but his formal coronation is likely to be next year . He and his sister, Princess Pilolevu have represented the monarch during his lengthy absences due to failing health.