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Pacific leaders head to London for coronation

Friday 5 May 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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Pacific leaders head to London for coronation
King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort. Photo: Hugo Burnand. 23050402

Many Pacific leaders or their representatives will be attending the coronation of King Charles III in London this weekend.

On Saturday UK time, the King will be crowned alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort, at Westminster Abbey.

The guest list numbers 2000 - a far cry from the 8000 invited to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

World figures will be among them including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australia's prime minister, Anthony Albanese, his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins and America's First Lady Jill Biden.

RNZ Pacific has looked at who will be attending from the Pacific.

Tonga

King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipa'u will represent the Kingdom.

It's not the first time Tongan royalty has attended the crowning of a British monarch as RNZ Pacific Tonga correspondent Kalafi Moala explains.

"Our king and queen are on their way to the United Kingdom, and of course this is part of a tradition because back in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was coronated, Tonga's Queen Salote (Tupou III), the grandmother of our current King, was the only monarch from outside Great Britain who was there."

Moala said the Tongan king and queen were going to London via Bangkok and met with Tongans there.

Papua New Guinea

PNG governor-general Sir Bob Dadae will be attending the coronation, leading a delegation of more than 30 people, including support staff.

The Post-Courier reports the delegation includes the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justin Tkatchenko, representing the Prime Minister; and the Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament.

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Governor General Sir David Vunagi will be representing his country.

The Solomons Times reports this will be the first Coronation of the Head of State of Solomon Islands that an official delegation will witness after independence.

The coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II came 25 years before Solomon Islands gained independence from Britain in 1978.

Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade were invited.

Tuvalu

Tuvalu's Governor General, Rev Tofiga Falani, will represent the country at the ceremony.

Confirmation of his attendance at Westminster Abbey was made by the Finance Minister Seve Paeniu.

Samoa

The Head of State and Masiofo are attending the coronation of their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. High Commissioner

Francella Strickland and Ambasador Fatumanava Dr Pao Luteru are part of the delegation.

The Head of State will be delivering the keynote address at a Commonwealth - Coronation special event on Small Islands States with Samoa as the Chair of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS).

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands will be represented by King's Representative Sir Tom and Lady Tuaine Marsters.

New Zealand

As well as the Prime Minister, the Māori King will be part of the New Zealand delegation to attend; Kiingi Tūheitia and his wife, will travel with Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, Chris Hipkins and others.

Fiji

The Fijian government will sending anyone to attend the coronation ceremony, according to a Fiji PM's communications team spokesperson.

Special ceremony on Tanna, Vanuatu

Meanwhile, on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu a special ceremony will be held to mark the occasion.

The ABC reports that in the villages of Yaohnanen and Yakel, where the late Prince Philip was honoured as a deity, thousands of people are expected to mark the coronation of his son.

Chief Johnson Iakapass said the celebrations would include a flag-raising ceremony and lots of kava.

"It will be a big celebration; we're talking about 5,000 to 6,000 people gathering together to celebrate the crowning of this king," he told the broadcaster.

"This person is really meaningful to the people of Tanna ... you will see a lot of people believing and celebrating the crowning of the prince.

Chief Johnson said he is is expecting people from Australia and Europe to join the celebration on Tanna.

In 1974, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the New Hebrides, before it became Vanuatu, where the Prince handed over a white pig to a member of the Tanna community during an event in the capital, Port Vila.

RNZ