King George Tupou V of Tonga was buried in an elaborate traditional ceremony on Tuesday. The King, 63, died suddenly on March 18, in a Hong Kong hospital.
Thousands gathered to bid farewell to the king at the burial ceremony held in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa. The funeral ceremony followed the Polynesian-Tongan rituals and the Wesleyan Christian tradition of hymns, bible readings, prayers and eulogies, according to the Reuters report.
The ceremony was marked by a 21-gun salute, and the king's coffin was carried on a giant, black-and-gold-topped catafalque by 150 pallbearers dressed in black and traditional woven ta'ovala mats, Reuters reported.
Thousands of Tongans lined up the streets, swathed in mourning colors of purple and black, to watch the funeral procession conducted with state honors. Hundreds of children also joined the crowds in their school uniform and black armbands.
King Tupou's body was flown to Tonga by a chartered plane on Monday. He was well-known for his eccentric lifestyle and had huge fascination for elaborate military uniforms and top hats. The cause of his death has not been officially announced yet, but he had undergone surgery for cancer last year.
King Tupou, the bachelor king, was known as a visionary and was responsible for bringing in democracy in a country of 100,000 people. He inherited the crown after his father's death in 2006 and his reign lasted for six years. The Oxford-educated Tupou renounced all important powers to a democratically elected government soon after he ascended the throne, following violent protests and riots demanding democracy.
Tupou V's younger brother Crown Prince Tupou VI will be the new king of Tonga. A traditional Kava ceremony, in which he will be designated as the Monarch, will be held on Saturday, followed by a coronation ceremony to be held at a time chosen by him later, Sky News reported.
Tonga consists of 170 islands in the South Pacific and has a history of 1000 years.