Queen Sālote III of Tonga

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Queen Sālote III of Tonga

Queen Sālote Tupou III was crowned as head of the Pacific's oldest monarchy in 1918. Only a few years earlier, she had been a student at Diocesan School in Auckland and for many years the Tongan royal family maintained a residence in the city. During her reign, Queen Sālote became a much-loved ruler in her kingdom and came to international attention when she travelled to England in 1953 to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.   

Very few Britons had heard of Tonga in 1953 and during the Coronation Procession to Westminster Abbey, Sālote stood out by refusing to have a cover put over her open carriage, even though it was raining heavily. This meant that out of all the official guests, she alone could be seen smiling broadly and waving to the British crowds lining the wet roads.

Queen Sālote's regal presence made her a public favourite everywhere she went in the British Isles: a popular song was written about her and a race horse was named after her. By the end of her trip she was so popular the BBC recorded her farewell speech as she prepared to board her flight for the long journey back to Tonga. You can hear an excerpt from that recording here which was sent to New Zealand's Broadcasting Service via shortwave radio.

Find out more about Queen Sālote:

Watch a 1953 Pathe newsreel featuring Queen Sālote. 

Listen to a 1936 radio broadcast by Queen Sālote from station 1YA Auckland. 

Image: Queen Sālote Tupou III of Tonga in her Coronation robes, 1918.
Auckland City Libraries via Wikimedia Commons.

Catalogue Reference 23515

Year 1953


Producer: Radio Digest
BBC and New Zealand Broadcasting Service

Excerpt: 00:00:51

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