Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 11:38 UK

In pictures: Coronation in Tonga

King George Tupou V is crowned by Archbishop of Polynesia Jabez Bryce (L) during his lavish Christian coronation ceremony at the Centenary Free Wesleyan Church in Nuku'alofa on Friday

Tonga's new king, George Tupou V, has been crowned in a sumptuous ceremony attended by hundreds of visitors, including foreign royals.

King George Tupou V wears a maroon-coloured cape trimmed with white ermine fur and a three-metre train carried by child pages as he emerges from his coronation in Nuku'alofa on Friday

Church bells tolled and a 21-cannon salute rang out as the king was crowned. He is succeeding his father, who died two years ago having reigned for 41 years.

Tongan King George Tupou V, right in second row, poses with Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, centre in second row, and Thailand's Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, left in second row,

After the ceremony, the king posed for the camera with visitors including Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, centre of second row, and Thailand's Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, left of second row.

Tongan women dance as part of coronation festivities (pic David Marks)

The archipelago has seen celebrations for much of the week. The king was crowned in a traditional ceremony on Wednesday, and other royals were also honoured.

A royal offering of yams and kava (pic David Marks)

Dozens of presentations of food - of yams, kava (a root used to make a mildly narcotic drink) and pigs - were also made from villagers to the king. The goods were then redistributed among villagers.

Tongan men dance (pic David Marks)

Correspondents say there is an infectious mood of celebration on the islands. They say islanders are also optimistic that they are entering an era of greater peace and prosperity.

King George Tupou V is driven in a restored black Humber semi-convertible motorcar to his coronation ceremony at the Centenary Free Wesleyan Church in Nuku'alofa on Friday

The lavish nature of the celebrations had attracted criticism in a country in which about a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, and in which lawmakers are unelected.

Reserve Bank of Tonga clerk Selaima Finau displays the just released one hundred pa'anga note featuring the new monarch

But Tonga's leaders defended the expenditure, saying the vast majority of Tongans supported it. The king has also said he supports democratic reforms scheduled for 2010.

An aerial view of some islands in the Tongan archipelago (pic David Marks)

King George has also pledged to protect Tonga’s natural beauty and its idyllic ocean environment, broaden educational opportunity, improve health and welfare benefits and strengthen the economy.



SEE ALSO
Tonga crowns king in lavish rite
01 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific


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