I was busy all day today with visitors at work, so there was no time to reflect on the death of the King of Tonga, George Tupou V. From a distance, he seemed a decent man, and he had an enormous impact on the Tongan political system in his few short years on the throne. He deserves more than comments about pith helmets and a few quoted tweets. Tupou V “spoke eight languages and was an accomplished cellist and pianist”, and (admittedly after civil unrest) brought democracy to Tonga at last. But one of his most entertaining gestures may have been his last:

Tongan media reported that he met Pope Benedict XVI on February 24 in the Vatican in Rome—and gave the Pope a signed picture of himself.

19 March 2012 · Events