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Tupou VI

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Tupou VI
Tupou VI in 2019
King of Tonga
Reign18 March 2012 – present
Coronation4 July 2015[1]
PredecessorGeorge Tupou V
Heir apparentTupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala
Prime Ministers
13th Prime Minister of Tonga
Term3 January 2000 – 11 February 2006
PredecessorBaron Vaea
SuccessorFeleti Sevele
MonarchTāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
Born (1959-07-12) 12 July 1959 (age 65)
Royal Palace, Nukuʻalofa, Kingdom of Tonga
(m. 1982)
IssuePrincess Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho
Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala
Prince Ata
ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho
HouseTupou dynasty
FatherTāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
MotherHalaevalu Mataʻaho ʻAhomeʻe
ReligionFree Wesleyan Church
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
University of New South Wales
Bond University

Tupou VI (Tongan: 'Aho‘eitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho; born 12 July 1959) is King of Tonga. He is the younger brother and successor of the late King George Tupou V. He was officially confirmed by his brother on 27 September 2006 as the heir presumptive to the Throne of Tonga, as his brother had no legitimate children. He served as Prime Minister of Tonga from 2000 to 2006 and as Tonga's High Commissioner to Australia, and resided in Canberra from 2008, until the death of King George Tupou V on 18 March 2012, when he became King of Tonga, with the regnal name Tupou VI. He also served as the Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific from 2013 to 2014. He was crowned in 2015 by the Reverend D'Arcy Wood.


Early life and education[edit]

ʻAhoʻeitu was born in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga, as the third son and youngest child of King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV.[2] He attended The Leys School in Cambridge from 1973 to 1977,[3] followed by enrollment at the University of East Anglia, where he studied Development Studies between 1977 and 1980.[4]

Military career[edit]

He joined the naval arm of the Tonga Defence Services in 1982, achieving the rank of Lieutenant-Commander by 1987. He graduated from the US Naval War College as part of Class 33 in 1988.[5]

His military service included commanding the Pacific-class patrol boat VOEA Pangai from 1990 to 1995, during which he participated in peacekeeping operations in Bougainville. Then, he obtained a master's degree in defence studies from the University of New South Wales in 1997 and another master's degree in international relations from Bond University in 1999.[5]

Governmental career[edit]

In 1998, ʻAhoʻeitu transitioned from his military career to government service, assuming dual roles as defence minister and foreign minister until August 2004.[6] These roles were previously held by his elder brother Tupoutoʻa, who was then the crown prince and later became King Siaosi Tupou V. He was appointed as Prime Minister on 3 January 2000,[6] a role he held until his unexpected resignation on 11 February 2006.[6] While the specific reasons for his resignation remain unclear, it is speculated to be connected to pro-democracy protests that had been ongoing since mid-2005, advocating for a reduced role of the royal family in government, eventually leading to the 2006 Nukuʻalofa riots.[7]

Chancellorship of the University of the South Pacific[edit]

King Tupou VI served as the 20th Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific from July 2013 to June 2014.[8] He was installed as Chancellor during the USP Tonga Graduation ceremony in July 2013.[9]

Prime Minister (2000–2006)[edit]

He assumed the role of prime minister on 3 January 2000, and held this position until his resignation on 11 February 2006.[10] His departure coincided with a period of heightened civic unrest, as pro-democracy protests gained traction from mid-2005 onward.[7]

In 2004, several Members of Parliament advocated for his resignation as Prime Minister following their decision to boycott the inauguration of the Tonga Legislative Assembly.[11] Among the MPs was Fred Sevele, who cited the closure of Royal Tongan Airlines as one of several adverse events associated with the Prime Minister's tenure. Sevele questioned the Prime Minister's ability to govern Tonga, asserting that an inability to manage an airline raised doubts about his capacity to govern the country effectively.[12]

In 2006, the Nukuʻalofa riots underscored a growing dissatisfaction with the existing political structure, calls for increased political representation and a more equal distribution of power.[7]

Diplomatic career[edit]

He took on the position of the chief of mission for Tonga's High Commission in Canberra when it was inaugurated in 2008,[13] a position he held until his succession to the Tongan throne in 2012. This move represented a notable development in Tonga's diplomatic relations with Australia, highlighting the establishment of a formal diplomatic presence.[14]

Concurrently, he served as a non-resident Ambassador to Japan from 15 January 2010 until his succession in 2012.[15][16]

Marriage and family[edit]

ʻAhoʻeitu is married to Nanasipauʻu Tukuʻaho, daughter of Baron Vaea.[17] They have three children[17] and four grandchildren.[18][19][20][21] Their eldest child, Princess Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho (Angelika Lātūfuipeka Halaevalu Mataʻaho Napua-o-kalani Tukuʻaho), born on November 17, 1983, has been the High Commissioner to Australia since August 22, 2012.[22]

Their second child, Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala (Siaosi Manumataongo ʻAlaivahamamaʻo ʻAhoʻeitu Konstantin Tukuʻaho), born on September 17, 1985, married his second cousin, Sinaitakala Fakafanua, on July 12, 2012.[23] They have four children: Prince Taufaʻahau Manumataongo (born May 10, 2013),[18] Princess Halaevalu Mataʻaho (born July 12, 2015),[19] Princess Nanasipauʻu (born March 20, 2018),[20] and Princess Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu (born February 25, 2021).[21]

Their third child is Prince Ata (Viliami ʻUnuaki-ʻo-Tonga Mumui Lalaka-Mo-e-ʻEiki Tukuʻaho), born on April 27, 1988.[17]

Upon his confirmation as heir presumptive, he acquired the traditional title of Tupoutoʻa, reserved for crown princes, a position his older brother relinquished due to marrying a commoner. Prior to ascending the throne, he was known as Tupoutoʻa Lavaka. His elder son, Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala, holds the title of ʻUlukālala of Fangatongo, while his second son, Prince Ata, was bestowed with the title ʻAta of Hihifo.[24]


King Tupou VI after his coronation ceremony in Nukuʻalofa on 4 July 2015

King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u were crowned in a ceremony conducted at Centenary Church in Nukuʻalofa on 4 July 2015 by the Reverend D'Arcy Wood, a retired Uniting Church in Australia minister who was born in Tonga. He was assisted by the Reverend 'Ahio and the Reverend Tevita Havea, the president and the secretary general of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.[25] About 15,000 guests attended the celebration.[26]

During the ceremony, Tupou VI was anointed with holy oil, adorned with a ring, and presented with a sceptre. The crown was then placed on his head by Wood, who performed the anointing and crowning as a matter of circumventing the taboo on native Tongans touching the King's head. The celebrations ran for a total of eleven days, beginning a week before the ceremony.[27]


On 25 August 2017, Tupou VI dismissed Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, dissolved the Legislative Assembly, and ordered early elections to be held by mid-November. Following the king's dissolution of the government, the speaker, Lord Tu’ivankō, issued a statement explaining his advice to the King that led him to dismiss the Prime Minister. Lord Tu’ivankō stated that Pōhiva had made unconstitutional moves, including signing international agreements without the King's consent.[28] On 15 January 2022, he was temporarily relocated from the Royal Palace following the eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai and the ensuing tsunami.[29]

Loss of confidence in ministers[edit]

On 2 February 2024, Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni was absent from Tonga, receiving medical treatment in New Zealand. During this time, King Tupou VI purportedly revoked the appointment of Siaosi Sovaleni as the armed forces minister and Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu as the minister of foreign affairs and tourism,[30][31] with the nine noble MPs urging them to resign from their ministerial positions.[32] The Attorney-General of Tonga, Linda Folaumoetu'i, advised the Cabinet that the King's action was unconstitutional.[33][34]

In response to the revocation of their appointments, Siaosi Sovaleni and Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu publicly announced their resignation from their respective ministerial positions in April 2024.[35]

Family tree[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tonga National Public Holidays for 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Tupouto'a Lavaka, Tonga's new Crown Prince". Matangi Tonga. 27 September 2006. Archived from the original on 3 November 2006.
  3. ^ "King of Tonga, an Old Leysian, hosts royal tour". The Leys School. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  4. ^ "One in seven countries has leader who studied in UK". BBC News. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b "The Monarch". Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "Tupou VI, HRH King 'Aho'eitu", International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who, Brill, retrieved 1 January 2024
  7. ^ a b c "Tonga gets first elected leader". 13 February 2006. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Chancellor". USP Governance - Council and Senate Secretariat (CSS). Retrieved 13 July 2024.
  9. ^ "King Tupou VI 20th Chancellor of University of the South Pacific". Matangi Tonga. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  10. ^ "Tonga's Prime Minister resigns". Matangi Tonga. 15 February 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  11. ^ "MPs call for resignation of Tongan Prime Minister". Matangi Tonga. 26 May 2004. Retrieved 26 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Call on Tongan prime minister to step down". RNZ. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  13. ^ "HRH The Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka: Tonga's First High Commissioner to Australia". Tonga Government Portal. 16 August 2008. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  14. ^ "HRH The Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka: Tonga's First High Commissioner to Australia". 30 November 2011. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  15. ^ "Tonga's Crown Prince New Ambassador to Japan". Pacific Islands Report. 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 November 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  16. ^ Portugal, Consulate (22 June 2021). "Constitutional Monarchy - Consulate General of the Kingdom of Tonga in Portugal". Retrieved 13 July 2024.
  17. ^ a b c "Royal Family Members". Tongan Royal Palace. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  18. ^ a b "New Tongan heir, Prince Taufa'ahau Manumataongo born May 10 in Auckland". Matangi Tonga. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  19. ^ a b "Tonga's new Princess Halaevalu Mata'aho". Matangi Tonga. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  20. ^ a b "New Princess born – HRH Princess Nanasipau'u". Matangi Tonga. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  21. ^ a b "Princess Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu – Tonga's new baby Princess". Matangi Tonga. 26 February 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  22. ^ "Princess Latufuipeka appointed Tonga's High Commissioner to Australia". Tonga Government Portal. 26 August 2012. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  23. ^ Pearlman, Jonathan (12 July 2012). "Tongan crown prince marries second cousin". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  24. ^ "Tupouto'a Lavaka, Tonga's new Crown Prince". Matangi Tonga. 3 November 2006. Archived from the original on 3 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  25. ^ Fonua, Pesi; Folau, Linny (4 July 2015). "HM King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u crowned at Centenary Church". Matangi Tonga. Vava'u Press. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Tonga crowns King Tupou VI in lavish public coronation, parties". ABC News. 4 July 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  27. ^ Fox, Liam (4 July 2015). "Tonga crowns King Tupou VI in lavish public coronation, parties". Nukuʻalofa: ABC News. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  28. ^ Wyeth, Grant. "King of Tonga Dismisses Prime Minister Pohiva's Government". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  29. ^ "Volcano triggers Tonga tsunami, alerts issued from Japan to US". uk.style.yahoo.com. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Tonga's King Tupou VI loses confidence in PM Hu'akavameiliku". RNZ. 6 February 2024. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  31. ^ "King has no confidence in two ministers". Matangi Tonga. 5 February 2024. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  32. ^ "Nobles demand Tonga PM to respect King's decision - 'I love my King', Hu'akavameiliku says". RNZ. 2 March 2024. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  33. ^ "Cabinet refutes King's orders, claiming it goes against Constitution". Matangi Tonga. 6 February 2024. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  34. ^ "Tonga Prime Minister has final call on ministers, not the King - former attorney-general". RNZ. 6 February 2024. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  35. ^ "Tonga ministers quit amid standoff with powerful monarch". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 17 May 2024.

External links[edit]

Tupou VI
House of Tupou
Born: 12 July 1959
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Tonga
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
New office High Commissioner to Australia
Succeeded by
Ambassador of Tonga to Japan
Succeeded by
Tania Laumanulupe Tupou
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Tonga
Heir apparent:
Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala