“The Sovereign of the only Polynesian kingdom … is voluntarily surrendering his powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of his people … [The people] favour a more representative, elected Parliament The king agrees with them.”Fielakepa, the spokesman for the royal palace in 2010
King George Tupou V of Tonga was a grandson of Sālote Tupou III, the phenomenally popular ruler who we profiled last year. George Tupou only reigned over the Tongan nation for six years – from 2006 to his death in 2012 – but he made quite an impact. During his reign, he acknowledged the will of the citizenry and voluntarily reduced the powers of the monarchy. He was a dichotomy: A man who was regarded as a reformer, a ruler that began a democratic era in the South Pacific kingdom of 176 islands, and a dandy who loved Savile Row suits, his royal robes, and his military uniforms. He was a man who loved fantastic ensembles, and was personally remote, but also evolved into a pragmatic realist when it came to his royal role.
Born in 1948, he was the oldest child and presumed heir of Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV. He grew into a handsome young man who was appointed Crown Prince in 1966, a role he held for forty years. He was a lifelong bachelor, he but did have a daughter, ‘Ilima Lei Fifita Tohi. Born out of wedlock, she would not be in the line of succession. The King attended King’s College, Auckland, and the Leys School, Cambridge, eventually becoming fluent in eight languages. He also attended Sandhurst.
Prior to his coronation, he announced that would relinquish most royal powers and cede the day-to-day operation of the country to the elected Prime Minister. He also sold most of his extensive business holdings that he had acquired during his long tenure as Crown Prince. Regardless, he didn’t become entirely humble and self-effacing. King Tupou remained known for his fondness for his incredible dress sense and, as a life-long anglophile, for being driven around Tonga in a London taxi.
His stylish side was on full display during the wedding ceremony of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Check out those lapels and that shirt/tie combination.
The shirt and tie combination here isn’t bad, either.
The King experienced several bouts of ill health in the last years of his life, including the removal of a kidney tumor and a diagnosis of leukemia. Prior to his final illness, he designated his brother, Tupou VI, as the heir to the Tongan kingdom.
He had a long apprenticeship as Crown Prince and a short reign, but it was one that encompassed great change in Tonga. He left behind a legacy of democratic progress and fashionable dress sense. Let us know what you think of the man and his style.