News Release

Government of Tonga Prime Minister’s Office

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (August 18) - In an article titled, "Tongans Praying for their King," in the 17 August 06 edition of The New Zealand Herald, Angela Gregory stated, The next in line to the throne is Crown Prince Tupouto'a, 58, who has already had to stand in for the King at times. The Herald has been told that according to the Tongan constitution the Prime Minister, as head of the Privy Council, rules Tonga until the coronation of Tupouto'a.

The Prime Minister’s Office, in consultation with the Palace Office and the Office of the Lord Chamberlain, wishes to make the following clarifications:

Although there is indeed a legal stipulation (section 11 of Government Act (CAP 3)) for the Prime Minister to preside over the Privy Council until the coronation of the successor to the Tongan Throne, it only comes into effect if there is a vacancy to the Throne.

A vacancy in the Tongan Throne will only occur if there is no successor or heir in terms of the genealogical line of succession outlined in Tonga’s Constitution (clause32) and if, in those circumstances, His Majesty The King has not appointed an heir during his lifetime.

There will be no vacancy in the Tongan Throne upon the passing of His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, as the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Tupouto’a is the lawful heir to the Tongan Throne.

Succession to the Tongan Throne is not dependent upon the heir to the Throne taking the Coronation Oath. The oath is a procedural requirement that does not affect the devolution of power to the new King.

The powers of office will pass to the new King from the time of his appointment, which is expected to take place immediately upon the passing of the present Monarch. The devolution of the powers of office does not await the taking of the Coronation oath.

As such, the new King will have all the powers of office of King, including as head of the Privy Council, from the moment of appointment, and there is no opportunity for the Prime Minister of the country to head the Privy Council.

August 22, 2006

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