Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Sunday, 27 December 2009

Tongan king to visit Staffordshire war memorial

King George Tupou V
King George Tupou V plans to visit the memorial early in the new year

The National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) in Staffordshire is preparing to host the King of Tonga.

King George Tupou V will be the first foreign head of state to visit the site in a trip planned for early in 2010.

It comprises 150 acres of trees and memorials at Alrewas, near Lichfield, and is dedicated to the remembrance of people linked to the armed forces.

The NMA said it was hopeful the king of the South Pacific Ocean island nation would support its £8m expansion appeal.

The Kingdom of Tonga is a member of the Commonwealth and has a population of about 104,000.

It was a British protectorate until 1970 when it became fully independent.

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