Tonga coronation set to cost $4 million - report

The coronation of Tonga's King George Tupou V later this year is expected to cost the country more than $4 million.

Details of the July coronation are due to be announced today by the Palace Office in Nuku'alofa, but the Dominion Post reported leaks revealed the big bash was to have a celebrity guest list including Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger.

The newspaper said it would also feature three balls: one for "very very important people", another for "very important people" and another for the rest who did not make the cut.

London tailors had designed the king's robes and a new sceptre in gold had been cast for the occasion.

The king had reportedly given exclusive broadcasting rights to the BBC.

The king, who turned 60 last Sunday, assumed the title in September 2006 on the death in Auckland of his father, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. Riots broke out five weeks later with the commercial businesses owned by the current king targeted.

The Tongan Government delayed plans to hold the coronation last year, fearing public reaction to the extravagance.

The newspaper said no official budget has been released, but Tongan Government sources said they expected it to run between $T5 million to $T6 million ($4 million).

Other sources told the newspaper the cost could climb to $T10 million.

No New Zealand aid money is expected to be spent. New Zealand aid to Tonga for the current financial year is worth $11.5 million.

- NZPA

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