The birthday of His Majesty King Topou VI s celebrated in Tonga on the 4th of July each year, although his actual birthday is on the 12th of the month. Celebrations begin on 1 July and last a week with 4 July being considered a public holiday.
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King Tupou VI was born the youngest of three boys born to King Tupou the IV and Halaevalu Mataáho ‘Ahome’e, with a given name of ‘Aho’eitu ‘Unuakiótonga Tuku’aho. Later in life, he was given three official titles, Lvaka, ‘Ulukalal and Ata, which replaced his given name. In 2000, he was appointed Prime Minister, a position he held until his father’s death in September 2006. His older brother, King George V, assumed the throne, but was not married and had no children. Lavaka, as he came to be known, was named heir-presumptive as the middle brother was ineligible since he had married a commoner. In 2012, King George V died of leukemia and Lavaka ascended to the throne.
Celebrations and Traditions
Celebrations begin on the 1st of July each year. There is a thanksgiving prayer held at the palace which is followed by a Royal Luncheon outside in the palace grounds. Traditional entertainment is performed and often includes the presentation of lakalka, ma’ulu’ulu and group dances. There is also a military parade and a flag ceremony at the beginning and end of the royal function which is often recorded and broadcast on national radio and television.
In addition to parades and traditional entertainment, there are brass band performances by the Royal Corps of Musicians as well as other well-known performers. Offices, schools and businesses are closed on the 4th of July in order to celebrate His Majesty’s birthday.