Sālote Tupou III

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Sālote Tupou III
Queen of Tonga
Queen Salote in London.jpg
Queen Salote in London at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Reign 5 April 1918 – 16 December 1965
Coronation 11 October 1918, Nukuʻalofa
Predecessor King George Tupou II
Successor King Tāufa‘āhau Tupou IV
Spouse Prince Viliami Tungī Mailefihi
Issue King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV of Tonga
Prince Uiliami Tuku‘aho of Tonga
Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake of Tonga
Full name
Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu
House House of Tupou
Father King George Tupou II
Mother Lavinia Veiongo
Born (1900-03-13)13 March 1900
Royal Palace, Tonga
Died 16 December 1965(1965-12-16) (aged 65)
Aotea Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
Burial Mala‘e Kula
Religion Methodism

Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III, KGCP, KGCTG, KGCGT, TMM (13 March 1900 – 16 December 1965), but usually named only Sālote, was queen regnant of Tonga from 5 April 1918 to her death in 1965.

Early life, Childhood and education[edit]

Early life[edit]

Sālote was born on the 13th of March 1900 in Tonga as the only child and heir of King George Tupou II of Tonga and his first wife Queen Lavinia; She was not popular, as she was perceived as being born from the 'wrong mother' because of her mother's low rank and was disliked so much that it was not safe for her to go outside the palace garden.[1]

Her mother, Queen Lavinia died from Tuberculosis on the 25th of April 1902, after her death the Chiefs in Tonga urged King George Tupou II for many years to remarry to produce a male heir; On the 11th of November 1909 the King married the then 16-year-old Anaseini Takipō, (half-sister of the rejected candidate 'Ofakivava'u', from the first search of a wife for the King) the chiefs were jubilant. Queen Anaseni gave birth twice, first to a girl: Princess Onelua who died a few months later and secondly to another girl: Princess Elisiva Fusipala Taukiʻonetuku.

Childhood and education[edit]

Crown Princess Sālote as a child.

In December 1909 Sālote was sent to Auckland, New Zealand to start her education; there she remained for 5 years although she did return to Tonga every Christmas holiday. After December 1914 the King ordered her to stay home in Tonga as hopes for Queen Anaseni giving birth to a male heir were low; She later began a course of intensive instruction in Tongan history and customs.

Personal history[edit]

Married to Viliami Tungī Mailefihi, she became the mother of Siaosi Tāufa‘āhau Tupoulahi – later King Tāufa‘āhau Tupou IV –, Uiliami Tuku‘aho (5 November 1919 – 28 April 1936), and Sione Ngū Manumataongo – later Tu‘i Pelehake (Fatafehi) –, plus three miscarriages. She died 16 December 1965 at Aotea Hospital, Auckland, after a long illness. Queen Salote was well known for her height at 6 ft 3 in (1.91 metres) tall.[2]

Tongan 1 paʻanga coin depicting Salote Tupou III.


From a traditional point of view she was also (the 21st) Tu‘i Kanokupolu and as such only grudgingly accepted by followers of the Tu‘i Tonga, that is the people of Mu‘a. The first years of her reign she spent a lot of effort in reducing their suspicions. Her marriage to Tungī Mailefihi had been a masterstroke of her father, as Tungī was a direct descendant of the Tu‘i Ha‘atakalaua, which at that time was seen as belonging to the Tu‘i Tonga's kauhala‘uta. Their children therefore combined the blood of the three grand royal dynasties in Tonga.

In 1920–1921, she assisted the Bernice P. Bishop Museum's Bayard Dominick Expedition with their mapping of Tongan archaeological sites by providing access to localities and information. The expedition's reports on the Tongan past—including a large volume of material which still remains unpublished even today—were primarily compiled by Edward Winslow Gifford and provided the groundwork for comprehensive studies of the pre-contact history of the Tongans (Burley 1998). She was also a keen writer and author of countless dance songs and love poems (hiva kakala) as well as majestic lakalaka.

She brought Tonga to international attention when, during her one and only visit to Europe, she attended the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London. During the coronation procession it began to rain and hoods were placed on the carriages in the procession. As Tongan custom dictates that one should not imitate the actions of person they are honoring, she refused a hood and rode through the pouring rain in an open carriage, endearing herself to spectators.[3] She served as Chairman of the Tonga Traditions Committee 1954–1965 and patronised the Tonga Red Cross Society.

Titles, Styles and honours[edit]


  • 13 March 1900 – 5 April 1918: Her Royal Highness Princess Sālote Tupou, The Crown Princess of Tonga
  • 5 April 1918 - 16 December 1965: Her Majesty Queen Sālote Tupou III, The Queen of Tonga[4]


National honours
Foreign honours



  • Bain, Kenneth Ross., (1967), The Friendly Islanders: a story of Queen Salote and her people, London; Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Burley, David V. (1998): Tongan Archaeology and the Tongan Past, 2850-150 B.P. Journal of World Prehistory 12(3): 337–392. doi:10.1023/A:1022322303769 (HTML abstract)
  • Kaeppler, A.L.; Taumoefolau, M.; Tukuʻaho, N., & Wood-Ellem, E. (2004): Songs and poems of Queen Salote. ISBN 978-982-213-008-9
  • Luke, Sir Harry (1954), Queen Salote & Her Kingdom, London:Putnam.
  • Wood-Ellem, Elizabeth (1999), Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 1900–1965, Auckland:Auckland University Press, ISBN 978-1-86940-205-1

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
King George Tupou II
Queen of Tonga
Succeeded by
King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV