King George


10 August 2008, 11.53 CET

The Economist reports a political shakeup involving someone living in my neighborhood:

Kingdom of Tonga

Kingdom of Tonga

UPON accession to the throne, Tonga’s kings have traditionally retired to a position of revered remoteness, leaving day-to-day affairs of state to a designated hau or ruler. So it is to be with King George Tupou V, who was crowned King of Tonga on August 1st in an elaborate ceremony attended by minor royals from around the world. Since the death of his father, the crown prince has divested himself of interests in brewing, telecommunications and electricity. Now the monarch’s political role is changing, too.
. . .
Under new arrangements, scheduled to come into force for elections in 2010, the king will forfeit most of his powers of appointment and the number of “people’s representatives” will increase to 17, or perhaps 21 if the king declines parliament’s offer to allow him to continue to appoint four of its members. Parliament will choose the prime minister, who will pick his cabinet without monarchical interference. Although the king is likely to retain reserve powers, the lord chamberlain says he will act on the advice of the prime minister “in all matters of governance”.

So today I’ve learned that the unofficial name for these parts is ‘revered remoteness’, implication being that the unofficial name for Tonga would be the opposite of remoteness. Fascinating.