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Royal grandchildren to wed in Tonga

Published: 12:43PM Sunday July 08, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Tonga has declared a national holiday this Thursday for the marriage of two royal grandchildren - to each other.

While the marriage of such close relatives is causing embarrassment, even within the royal family, the Tongan Government has issued coverage guidelines to the international media.

The lavish wedding, delayed by the death and mourning period for King George Tupou V in February, takes place despite concerns over how much it will cost Tonga as well as the appropriateness of two close relatives marrying each other.

Another senior member of the royal family has gone public with her unease over arranged high level marriages in Tonga.

The number one-in-line for the throne, Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ukukalala, 27, will marry 25-year-old Sinaitakala Fakafanua, 26th in line on Thursday.

A source in the Palace Household staff told Fairfax Media the new king, Tupou VI, opposed the marriage as the relationship was too close, but it was Queen Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho who literally arranged it.

She pushed if forward even as the royal family remains in mourning black until February next year.

This week the Tongan Government invited international media to cover the wedding but said they would have to be formally accredited and meet local standards.

"You play an important role and we ask for your cooperation in ensuring that our customs and traditions are not violated," the invitation said.

Foreign media are told they have to wear a suit and tie, no sunglasses or hats at any time and for women "no sleeveless tops or dresses".

They are told to were flat shoes "as you will need to be quite mobile." Food, drinks and gum is not allowed at the Royal Palace.

"Umbrellas are not allowed at any time, including rain, ... within the areas of the Royal Wedding.

Photographs are not allowed in sacred areas and if the media do take pictures "we have the right to remove and delete those images in the interest of our taboos and customs.

"It is best to remain seated on the ground. If you need to take a photo, please stand up quickly and take it then sit down," the government says.

Princess Frederica Tuita, ninth in line to the throne and living in Auckland, earlier this year attacked the marriage and said the royal system of arranged marriages "was extremely arrogant and only perpetuated the motive behind social climbers".

When the wedding was announced veteran pro-democracy politician 'Akilisi Pohiva was critical of the wedding, saying the family wanted to keep "the royal blood to their own family".

"They need new blood from outside... They are too close, I do not know about biological effects of two close bloods mixed together, but I think they need new blood from outside."

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