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The King is Dead!

September 14, 2006

King Taufa'ahau” The people of Tonga have been plunged into mourning following the death of 88-year-old King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.

Public buildings are being draped in black and purple as a mark of respect.

King Tupou IV was absolute ruler of the South Pacific island nation for 41 years, making him the world’s fourth longest-serving monarch.

His son, Crown Prince Tupouto’a, was sworn in as the new king at a brief ceremony on Monday, but it could be at least a year before a full coronation.

Correspondents say King Tupou IV was much loved by his people, but his death is likely to fuel calls for greater democracy.

King Tupou’s death was reported late on Sunday at Auckland’s Mercy Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment since April.

The Tongan government made a formal announcement shortly afterwards. “The sun has set in the kingdom of Tonga,” it said in a statement.

The king’s body will remain in Auckland until Wednesday, before being moved back to Tonga to lie in state.

Mourning has already begun and is expected to last up to a year. “

In a time when kings and queens are almost universally considered obsolete, it is still worth marking their passing. Even if they don’t shape our present in the way they have through history, monarchs shape our past, and subsequently our future, because for better or worse, a ruler is always synonymous with his subjects.

~ TranceFixed

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