National Geographic : 1968 Mar
In a ceremony of simple dignity, sover eigns kneel in Tonga's richly carved Chapel Royal on July 4, 1967, for the coronation. It was His Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's 49th birthday. Seconds earlier the Roy al Chaplain, the Reverend G. C. Harris, cen ter, crowned the King, and the Reverend C. F. Gribble, President-General of the Meth odist Church of Australasia, placed the cor onet on Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho's head. Though most of the islanders speak fluent English, the ceremony was read and sung in Tongan, with Methodist hymns and prayers that reflect the work of missionaries of more than a century ago. the National Geographic Society's new head quarters building on January 18, 1964, and Prince Tungi of Tonga came as a guest of Luis Marden, Chief of the GEOGRAPHIC'S Foreign Editorial Staff. Luis had known the Prince and his late mother Queen Salote for many years, and had introduced him to the sport of Aqua-Lung diving on Tonga's reefs. Anne and I both recalled how impressed the President had seemed to be with the quick mind and broad outlook of this Polynesian Prince, as well as with his vast dimensions. My wife's next thought was practical and feminine: What to wear? "The delegates must be attired formally," said the State Department's Protocol Office. "Morning dress with cutaway coat and gray or black topper for you, and long dark or white dress and white gloves for Mrs. Grosve nor-formal but simple so the ladies won't outshine the King and Queen." Taking a top hat to the tropics made me feel like the Mad Hatter himself. And Anne had trouble finding a suitably sober dress in Washington in hot June weather. But a more persistent problem was our son Edwin, 15. An enthusiastic photographer, he begged to be taken along. "Or better still," he pleaded, "I could go ahead-and stay with Mr. Marden's friends. That way I could take more pictures." We asked Luis Marden's opinion. "Tonga isn't Tahiti," said Luis. "I don't see how Ed could get into trouble. Everyone on Tonga is devoutly religious; you can't go wrong on coconut milk." So Ed set off by himself, loaded down with cameras and lights. We followed the next week, jet-hopping across the Pacific. In Fiji we met Ratu (Chief) Edward Tha kombau, who was also headed for the coro nation. A tall, fine-looking man with a twinkle in his eye, this half brother of the late Queen Sailote wore a colonel's uniform and a kiltlike 325 The making of a monarch: The Royal Chaplain gentlylowers a massive gold crown onto King Taufa'ahau's head. Instantly, shouts proclaim, "Long may the King reign!" and ancient log drums relay the joyous cry across the island of Tongatapu. Watching the ritual in an audience spangled with dignitaries, the Duke of Kent, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and the richly jeweled Duchess of Kent represent the United King dom. Beside them, in ceremonial ta'ovala, stand the King's brother and Premier, Prince Tu'ipelehake, and his wife, with the King's daughter, the Princess Pilolevu.