King Tupou VI of Tonga has a birthday coming up and he has begun celebrating early with a birthday luncheon today at the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa. The luncheon was followed by a lively brass band performance by the Royal Corps of Musicians, while dancers from Kanokupolu performed the tradition Fola’osi Lakalaka today for the King. Princess Pilolevu and Lord Vaea were the vahenga for the Lakalaka. Dancers from Pea performed a sitting dance, the Ma’ulu’ulu, and Kolovai women performed a Tau’olunga (Tokolahi).
There was some danger of the celebrations being spoiled by heavy rain in the morning, but by the afternoon the sun was shining again. Afterwards several members of the Royal Family and their guests followed a military parade at the Pangai Lahi, which is next to the Royal Palace.
King Tupou VI was born as the third son of King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV and Queen Halaevalu Mataʻaho ʻAhomeʻe on 12 July 1959. He was educated at The Leys School in Cambridge, from 1973 until 1977. He then attended the University of East Anglia, where he studied Development Studies, from 1977 to 1980. He graduated with a masters in Defence Studies from the University of New South Wales in 1997 and with a MA in International Relations from Bond University in 1999.
He joined the government, first as defence minister and the foreign minister, at the same time, and later as prime minister. His elder brother became King George Tupou V following the death of their father in 2006. He died in 2012, leaving behind an illegitimate daughter. His second brother had been stripped of his royal titles after his marriage to a commoner and he had died in 2004. Thus, Tupou VI succeeded his brother as King of Tonga. He had married Queen Nanasipau’u, also his second cousin, in 1982 and the couple have three children and two grandchildren.