London, 28 July 2012. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala of the Kingdom of Tonga and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sinaitakala Tuku’aho Fakafanua of the Kingdom of Tonga were invested as a Knight Grand Cross and a Dame Grand Cross respectively into the internationally recognised Royal Order of Francis I at an Investiture ceremony presided held at Stationers’ Hall in London. The Grand Master of the Order, HRH Prince Carlo of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro presided.
The Order’s Grand Magistral Delegate for Inter-Religious Relations and Delegate for Great Britain and Ireland, HE Mr Anthony Bailey, OBE, GCSS, delivered an opening speech outlining the reasons for the awards.
“In February of this year, His Majesty King George Tupou V, the Crown Prince’s uncle, paid an official visit to Pope Benedict XVI and while in Rome, he met with senior representatives of the Constantinian Order, including the Grand Prior, His Eminence Cardinal Martino, and myself.”
“We held detailed discussions about how the Order and Tonga can work closely together in charitable and humanitarian and religious programmes internationally. To mark this new relationship there was an exchange of honours.”
“It was therefore all the more tragic to hear a few weeks after that meeting of the news of the sudden passing of His Majesty The King.”
“Your Royal Highnesses, I would to express how much we appreciated our dialogue with the late King, your uncle. We ask that Your Royal Highness pass on to your father, King Tupou VI, our very sincere condolences on the loss of his brother, and to congratulate His Majesty on his own accession to the Throne.”
“We look forward to continue the work that has been planned with the late King, who as a Methodist made a number of significant ecumenical gestures throughout his reign. I hope that the talks that began so fruitfully with him might now continue with Your Royal Highnesses.”
“It is therefore my great pleasure to invite Your Royal Highnesses to stand and receive the Insignia of a Knight Grand Cross and a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I.”
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala of the Kingdom of Tonga gave a short speech after his investiture.
“It is a great honour for myself and the Crown Princess to receive this most prestigious award. I would like therefore to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Prince and Grand Master of the Order, His Royal Highness The Duke of Castro, and the Grand Prior, His Eminence Cardinal Martino, and Delegate for Inter-Religious Relations His Excellency Mr Anthony Bailey for honouring us in such an extraordinary way, with the insignia of the Knight and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I. This is a special award which we accept not only in our names but also in the name of His Majesty King Tupou VI, the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Tonga.
“There is complete freedom of religion in Tonga and our constitution states all men are free to practice their religion and to worship God as they may deem fit, in accordance with dictates of their own worship, consciousness and to assemble for religious service in such places they may want. The island kingdom is dominated by Christian religion, mainly Methodists and Catholics but there are small pockets of other religions. I would like to acknowledge the important roles and the contributions the Catholic community in the socio-economic development of the Tongan society.
“In recognition of our efforts to defend and protect the Christian faith in our country and his global contribution to further greater inter-religious understanding, His late Majesty King George Tupou V accepted a similar award and since then warm ties between our Royal Dynasties will continue to strengthen.
“The Crown Princess and I look forward to visiting your home capital and Rome sometime in the near future following in the footsteps of the late King. I wish to assure Your Royal Highnesses and Your Excellency that Tonga remains committed to the furthering of cooperation and understanding between all faiths and to working with the Sacred Order to achieve these noble and much needed goals.
“With much love and respect, thank you very much.”
An additional Benemerenti Medal was granted to Mrs Victorina Laukaupo’uli Afeaki Kioa consort of HE The High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga to the Court of St James’s.
The ceremony was attended by over 250 leading state, faith, diplomatic, and parliamentary figures from across the world.
A Guard of Honour by the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company, Body Guards to the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of the city of London were on parade by permission of the Captain Commanding.
To watch the speech, click here.