His Majesty King Tupou VI sent the Prime Minister and soldiers to persuade his son, Prince Ata, to stop a baptism ceremony that would have made him a Mormon.
The baptism was to be held in Havelu Stake Centre at the beginning of last month.
The Prime Minister was sent after the Prince sent away soldiers, led by Lieutenant Kiu Tu’ivakanō, the son of the Prime Minister, who was ordered by the king to intervene in the prince’s baptism ceremony in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS).
When the soldiers relayed the king’s message the prince refused to obey and told the Mormon leaders at the ceremony he wanted them to continue and baptise him.
Prince Ata is the king’s second son and fourth in line to the throne.
According to unconfirmed reports received by Kaniva News, His Majesty later warned Prince Ata he could have some of his princely privileges revoked if he was baptised into the Mormon church.
The Prime Minister’s office and the Palace Office did not respond to our requests for comments.
One of the top members of the Mormon Church in Tonga and also a Member of Parliament, Semisi Sika, who attended the prince’s baptism spoke to Kaniva News about the ceremony.
Hon Sika told us the Prime Minister arrived and told the Prince the king had asked him to postpone the ceremony. The prince again refused to obey and told the Mormon leaders to go ahead and baptise him.
The Prime Minister asked the prince and the church leaders if they could wait as he wanted to go back and inform the king that Ata still wanted the baptism to go ahead.
The Prime Minister returned and told Prince Ata His Majesty asked to postpone the ceremony till they return from their overseas trips. With the help of the Nuku’alofa Stake President, ‘Alavini Sika, the prince finally agreed and he was not christened on the day.
Hon Sika said the prince was about to be baptised on a Friday and Their Majesties were on a planned travel to the United States and Europe on Saturday.
He said the Prime Minister had reported that Their Majesties wanted to attend Ata’s baptism ceremony after they returned from overseas.
Almost two months later Prince Ata has still not been christened but attends the church’s regular Sunday prayer programme and other activities.
It is understood Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u is currently in New Zealand and is expected to return to Tonga shortly.
The growth of the Mormon Church in Tonga has been dramatic. According to government statistics, the church is now the second largest in Tonga after the Free Wesleyan Church. The Catholic church was previously the second largest church in Tonga.
Royals and church
The royal family and most of the nobility have been associated with the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga since George Tupou 1, the founder of modern Tonga, allowed Christianity into Tonga.
He was baptised as Siaosi, the Tongan for George, in 1831.
When the church elects its president every three years, the president has to be confirmed by the king.
The Free Wesleyan Church is often seen as the state religion, although this is not officially the case.
In 2008, when the late King George V was crowned, he chose to be anointed by the Suva-based Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia, Jabez Bryce, instead of a clergyman from the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.
In 1989 Princess Fusipala was the first member of the royal household to be baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was the first cousin of King Tupou VI.
The main points
- His Majesty King Tupou VI sent the Prime Minister and soldiers to persuade his son, Prince Ata, to stop a baptism ceremony that would have made him a Mormon at the beginning of last month.
- Prince Ata is the king’s second son and fourth in line to the throne.
- According to unconfirmed reports, His Majesty warned Prince Ata he could have his title revoked.
- The prince agreed to postpone the ceremony, but two months later he has still not been baptised, even though he continues to attend the LDS church.