Sālote Tupou III

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Sālote Tupou III
Salote Tupou III of Tonga in coronation robe-crop.jpg
Queen Salote in her coronation robe
Queen of Tonga
Reign5 April 1918 – 16 December 1965
Coronation11 October 1918, Nukuʻalofa
PredecessorGeorge Tupou II
SuccessorTāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
Prime Ministers
Born(1900-03-13)13 March 1900
Royal Palace, Tonga
Died16 December 1965(1965-12-16) (aged 65)
Aotea Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
(m. 1916; died 1941)
IssueTāufaʻāhau Tupou IV
Prince Uiliami Tuku‘aho
Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake
Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu
FatherGeorge Tupou II
MotherLavinia Veiongo
ReligionFree Wesleyan Church

Sālote Tupou III (born Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu; 13 March 1900 – 16 December 1965) was Queen of Tonga from 1918 to her death in 1965. She reigned for nearly 48 years, longer than any other Tongan monarch. She was well known for her height, standing 6 ft 3 in (1.91 metres) tall in her prime.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Crown Princess Sālote as a child in 1908

Sālote (Charlotte) was born on 13 March 1900 in Tonga as the eldest daughter and heir of King George Tupou II of Tonga and his first wife, Queen Lavinia Veiongo.[3] She was baptized and named after her great-grandmother Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu (daughter of George Tupou I).[4] She was not popular, as she was perceived as being born from the 'wrong mother' because of her mother's lower rank and was disliked so much that it was not safe for her to go outside the palace.[5]

Her mother, Queen Lavinia, died from tuberculosis on 25 April 1902.[6] After her death, the Chiefs in Tonga urged King George Tupou II for many years to remarry to produce a male heir. On 11 November 1909, when the King finally married the 16-year-old ʻAnaseini 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, both girls: Princess ʻOnelua (born 20 March 1911; died of convulsions aged six months, on 19 August 1911) and Princess ʻElisiva Fusipala Taukiʻonetuku (born 26 July 1912; died from tubercular peritonitis on 21 April 1933 aged 20).[7]


In December 1909 Sālote was sent to Auckland, New Zealand, to start five years of education.[8] She returned 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 instruction in Tongan history and customs.

Personal history[edit]

In 1917, Sālote married Viliami Tungī Mailefihi, an adult noble then 30 years old, 13 years her senior. At the age of 18, she became a mother for the first time. Her children were:

Queen Sālote died on 16 December 1965 at Auckland City Hospital, after a long illness. Her body was flown back to Tonga.[8]


Tongan 1 paʻanga coin depicting Salote Tupou III
Queen Salote inspects her troops following Tonga's declaration of war on Nazi Germany in 1940.

Her marriage to Tungī Mailefihi had been a political masterstroke by 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.[citation needed] Their children, therefore, combined the blood of the three grand royal dynasties in Tonga.[citation needed]

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 dance songs and love poems, published in 2004, edited by her biographer, Elizabeth Wood-Ellem.[11][12]

Salote led Tonga through World War II, with the islands declaring war on Germany in 1940 and on Japan in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor.[13] She put Tonga's resources at the disposal of Britain and supported the Allied cause throughout the war. Tongan troops saw battle against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign, including on Guadalcanal.[14]

She brought Tonga to international attention when, during her sole 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 persons one is honouring,[15] she refused a hood and rode through the pouring rain in an open carriage with Sultan Ibrahim IV of Kelantan, endearing herself to spectators.[15][16] She served as Chairman of the Tonga Traditions Committee 1954–1965 and patronised the Tonga Red Cross Society.[17]

Depictions in popular culture[edit]

Trinidadian-Venezuelan musician Edmundo Ros composed, recorded, and performed a calypso song titled "The Queen of Tonga" whose lyrics refer to Queen Salote attending the coronation of Elizabeth II.[18]

Family tree[edit]



  1. ^ "GREAT BRITAIN: Reunion in Paradise". Time. 28 December 1953.
  2. ^ Chloe Foussianes (25 October 2018). "Queen Elizabeth Just Honored Her Friend Queen Salote, Tonga's 6-Foot Queen Who Reigned for 48 Years". Town & Country.
  3. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, p. 1.
  4. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, pp. 8, 19.
  5. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, pp. 1–16.
  6. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, p. 9.
  7. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, p. 12–13, 32.
  8. ^ a b Queen Salote Tupou (1900–1965), Tepapa.govt.nz, Retrieved 2 August 2016
  9. ^ a b c Eustis 1997, p. 101.
  10. ^ Wood-Ellem 1999, p. 162.
  11. ^ "Queen Salote's masterpiece published in Tonga". Matangi Tonga. 23 September 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  12. ^ "Queen Salote's masterpieces reprinted". Matangi Tonga. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  13. ^ "The United States Invasion of Tonga In 1942". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  14. ^ Garamone, Jim (9 November 2010). "Mullen Thanks Tonga for Steadfast Support". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  15. ^ a b "In the Court of the King of Tonga". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  16. ^ Panter-Downes, Mollie (5 June 1953). "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  17. ^ Kerry, James (2002). "Review of Salote, Queen of Paradise, by Margaret Hixon". The Contemporary Pacific. 14 (2): 487. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  18. ^ Youtube
  19. ^ Brierley, Mark. "From the Archives: Queen Salote of Tonga". Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL). Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  20. ^ Archive
  21. ^ "Tonga profile – Timeline – BBC News". M.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Queen Salote's Cloak – Picture of Tonga National Cultural Centre, Tongatapu Island". Tripadvisor.com. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Image: lotte-meitner-graf-salote-tupou-iii-1900-65-of-tonga.jpg, (366 × 488 px)". Imgc.allpostersimages.com. Retrieved 4 September 2015.


External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by Queen of Tonga
Succeeded by