While Premier Dalton Tagelagi attended the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in London on behalf of Niue, there was a national memorial service held yesterday, attended by the leaders of the island to mark the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of her successor King Charles III as Niue’s new Head of State.
Acting Premier Hon. Sauni Tongatule paid tribute to Niues former Head of State Queen Elizabeth II for her life of service. Tongatule recounted the history of Niue and the British Empire, that it was the wish of Niue’s ancestors and former Kings to request protection from the British Empire, making three requests. Niue’s wishes were finally granted in 1900 when Niue became a protectorate of Great Britain when the Union Jack was first flown in Niue.
Speaker of the Fono Ekepule Hon. Hima Douglas read out the first article of the Niue constitution with regard to the executive authority of the Niue government ‘vested in Her Majesty the Queen…” through the Governor General of New Zealand and Niue.
Hon. Sauni Tongatule said that even though Queen Elizabeth did not visit Niue during her seventy-year-long reign, her son Prince Edward visited in 1983 and the Queen’s husband the late Prince Phillip visited Niue in 1990 in the aftermath of Cyclone Ofa.
The service yesterday also marks the occasion when the country’s flags are returned to full mast and the recognition of the accession of King Charles III as Niue’s new Head of State.
Wreaths were laid in remembrance and a Condolences book was open for the attendees to sign.
Disappointingly, there were many empty seats in the Taoga Niue auditorium which has added weight to Opposition MP and veteran Common Roll member Hon. Terry Coe’s comments about his disappointment at what he said was the lack of respect for The Queen in Niue.
Coe’s comments were made on the News of the Week radio programme the day after the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II. He said that he tried to raise his concerns a couple of times in the Fono Ekepule but nothing was done to improve the visibility of the role of the reigning monarch as Niue’s Head of State in government offices, and even in the Fale Fono.
He said that if one was to walk into government offices, they will not see a picture of The Queen as the government’s Head of State which he believes is disrespecting the role of the Monarch.
Coe was given the honour to represent the Fono Ekepule in laying the wreath at the service but only time will tell whether his comments will see any improvements to the visibility of the respect for the monarch and if there will be any changes during the reign of King Charles III.
The passing of Queen Elizabeth II will in due course see only the second time the Niue constitution will be amended to change article one, from “Her Majesty the Queen to His Majesty the King”.
The condolences book will be open at the Tagoa Niue until Friday this week September 23rd.