Platinum Jubilee celebrations bring back memories of Tongan monarch’s touching coronation gesture | UK News

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations have brought back fond memories of a different monarch for Tonga’s chief diplomat to the UK.

As Queen Elizabeth celebrates 70 years on the throne, High Commissioner Titilupe Fanetupouvava’u Tu’ivakano will also remember her great-grandmother, Queen Salote Tupou III, who captivated Britons as she rode through the rainy streets of London in an open carriage during the Queen’s coronation parade in 1953.

Despite the pouring rain, Queen Salote refused to close the top of her carriage as a sign of respect for the new monarch.

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The action drew cheers from the revellers lining the streets.

“Every single Tongan knows about that experience,” Ms Tu’ivakano told AP.

“I even have some individuals walking up to me (in London) and asking me, ‘Are you Tongan?’ These are ladies who were there 70 years ago.

“They still remember what happened.”

Tonga, an archipelago of 170 islands in the South Pacific, was a British protectorate at the time of the coronation, but became fully independent in 1970 and joined the Commonwealth.

After a volcanic eruption and tsunami earlier this year, Britain worked with Commonwealth nations Australia and New Zealand to provide aid for Tonga.

Queen Salote of Tonga laughs with Prince Philip as they sit alongside Queen Elizabeth II. Pic: AP

Queen Salote was 18 when she came to the throne in 1918 and is credited with laying the groundwork for independence, though she died in 1965 before seeing it become a reality.

The diplomat said there were similarities between the two queens, with both being crowned at a young age and taking their positions in a male-dominated world.

Tonga's High Commissioner to the UK, Titilupe Fanetupouvava'u Tu'ivakano, holds a portrait of her great grandmother Queen Salote Tupou III. Pic: AP
Tonga’s High Commissioner to the UK, Titilupe Fanetupouvava’u Tu’ivakano, holds a portrait of her great grandmother Queen Salote Tupou III. Pic: AP

She said her actions at the coronation helped cement the links between the UK and Tonga.

“There were crowds and crowds of people who witnessed this auspicious occasion and this sign of traditional Tongan respect which was passed down among generations,” she said.

“I think this has, in a sense, not only reflected the relationship between the United Kingdom and Tonga but also among the people of the United Kingdom that were there and also the people of Tonga.”

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