Longest-reigning queen of Tonga dies

Queen Salote Tupou of Tonga, the world's smallest kingdom, died this week in December 1965, at age 65.

She had been admitted to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, with a chest complaint and pleurisy, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.

She had suffered from diabetes and cancer in the leg.

The queen, who succeeded her father in 1918, was said to be descended from an ancient dynasty dating back to the 10th century.

Tonga, also called the Pacific Friendly Islands, had about 47,000 people in the 1950s.

Queen Salote had arrived in Auckland in early November 1965 for an annual medical check-up. She was 1.9m tall and weighed 127kg, which meant she had to be lowered from her special plane by forklift.

Queen Salote, who reigned for nearly 48 years, longer than any other Tongan monarch, was succeeded by her son, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'Longest-reigning queen of Tonga dies'. Print Edition | Subscribe