It rains heavily in Tonga, in the warm South Pacific. Thus it did not seem unusual to Tonga's Queen Salote* that it should be raining in London on coronation day. Instead of withdrawing into the shelter of her coach like most notables in the long procession from Westminster Abbey, Queen Salote sat in the drenching downpour, a massive (6 ft. 3 in., 280 Ibs.), broad-faced woman in red robes and a headdress from which two feathers stuck stiffly upright; she beamed, waved, mopped rain from her face with a handkerchief, beamed again. The soaked, footsore crowd who had waited interminable hours to see the procession instantly warmed to Queen" Salote.
After the procession she hurried back to her house in Weymouth Street, took off her soaked gown (made from the bark of a hibiscus tree), had a hot bath and went to bed. Later she told newsmen that she loved the British weather. "The public was as wet as I, and we were both enjoying ourselves . . . Oh, it was marvelous. The greatest day ever." Wrote the London Daily Telegraph: "Few visitors can ever have endeared themselves so widely and so speedily." Pleaded Columnist Nat Gubbins in the Sunday Express:
Linger longer, Queen of Tonga,
Linger longer wiv us.
Longer while the English summer
Gives us all the shivvas.
While the summer east winds blow
And shake our English livvas.
From then on. the Queen of Tonga was a hit wherever she went. Her street clothes were unremarkable, her manner motherly and informal, but she maintained an air of dignity and genuine queenliness. She turned up at the ballet to see Margot Fonteyn dance Sleeping Beauty, at Lord's to watch the cricket, hefted babies at the Chelsea welfare center, inspected Canterbury and Cambridge, saw
Dial M for Murder, rounded up and gave a tea party for 45 fellow old girls of the Diocesan High School of Auckland, New Zealand. Editorialized the London Times:
"Such is the force of character that Queen Salote made us as conscious of Tonga as Columbus made the Caribs conscious of Spain. Everyone now wants to know something more."
Tonga, England soon learned, is an archipelago of probably 200 islands about 1,400 miles south of the equator. Captain Cook called there in 1773, named them the Friendly Islands, and presented the Tongans with a tortoise, which is still alive. Methodist missionaries arrived in 1822 and converted the king to Christianity. Queen Salote's father voluntarily accepted British protection in 1900. Tonga is the only remaining independent monarchy in the Pacific. It has its own parliament, cabinet, privy council, passports, stamps, currency, laws and language, and is the only self-governing kingdom within the British Commonwealth. The 49,000 inhabitants have no unemployment problem, no illiteracy, no poverty. They boast of free health service, free education.
Since 1918, Queen Salotedescendant of a 1,000-year-old dynastyhas ruled her country from a white wooden palace on the main island. A widow since 1942, she has two sons who attended Sydney University, from which she herself graduated many years ago. Her eldest son is her Premier.
Last week, having conquered Britain, Queen Salote was off to misty Scotland. Wherever she went, she was cheered by huge crowds. Said Scotland's Minister of