King Charles III is the head of state in the five Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Australia and New Zealand.
The Commonwealth’s 56 countries represent about 2.5 billion people, more than a third of the world’s population. Within the 56 countries, there are 14 realms that will have King Charles III as their monarch.
The 14 realms are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
Last Tuesday, leaders of Papua New Guinea held a ceremony to honour the late Queen Elizabeth II and proclaim King Charles III as the country’s new head of state.
Governor-General Bob Dadae and Prime Minister James Marape were joined by dignitaries at the ceremony outside Parliament in the capital Port Moresby.
“In reflection of the life she lived, the exemplary performance of duties as the head of the state of Papua New Guinea, it is in this connection that we all gather here this morning to acknowledge her passing and to acknowledge and witness the ascension of the throne of King Charles III,” Mr Marape said at the event.
Mr Marape and other Pacific leaders met King Charles on Friday. For Papua New Guinea this was a symbolic event as it coincided with Papua New Guinea’s 47th independence day anniversary.
King Charles III was officially declared the Head of State for Solomon Islands following his Ascension to the Throne on Monday 8 September.
Solomon Islands Governor General Sir David Vunagi read to the nation the Proclamation from Buckingham Palace on the Ascension to the Throne of His Majesty King Charles III. With that declaration, King Charles is officially the Head of State for Solomon Islands.
King Charles relationship with the Pacific is as colourful as the Queen’s and he has made many visits starting in 1970 when he delivered the instruments of independence to Fiji.
Charles recognises Pacific Islander
King Charles III was quick to recognise a Fijian amongst the crowd that had gathered at Lambeth Bridge in London. Thousands queued up to see the late Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state at the Westminster Hall.
As the King was made his way down shaking hands and thanking people he stopped and asked a man if he was from Fiji. The small but amazing interaction was caught on camera.
Who is heading to Queen’s funeral? – 16 September 2022
This coming Monday will see the world come to a standstill as Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest in the UK.
The Queen’s final resting place has been revealed, and following the state funeral at Westminster Abbey, there will be a graveside service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Among the invited leaders and guests at the funeral service will be Pacific Islanders. The first Pacific nation to confirm their attendance were the Tongans. King Tupou VI and his wife will be in attendance.
The Tongan Royal family have close ties with the British royals, and Queen Salote will be present during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape said he will travel to London for the funeral, then to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, and Japan where he will attend former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s funeral as well.
Fiji’s prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama said he was invited as well and it would be an honour for Fiji to be there.
“I last met Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where I expressed my respect for her remarkable reign in a traditional gesture,” he tweeted.
“I hope that King Charles III and the Royal Family know how beloved Her Majesty will always be across the Pacific.”
Samoa’s head of state Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II and Masiofo Fa’amausili, are attending the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Ministry of the Prime Minister’s Chief Executive Officer, Agafili Shem Leo, is included in the delegation.
The head of state and Masiofo are flying out of Samoa on a special flight organised by Australia for heads of governments from around the region attending the final service for the British monarch.
The group is expected to leave for the United Kingdom on a direct flight from Australia.
Vanuatu is in parliamentary peril at this point in time as it is in the hands of a caretaker government. Vanuatu’s president Nikenike Vurobaravu said he would represent the nation.
Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tuvalu have accepted Australia’s help to fly representatives to the funeral and other British Commonwealth island leaders could take up the offer, Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday.
Mr Albanese said all ten former British colonies in the Pacific region had been offered help.
Albanese has said he did not want leaders from remote island nations in the Australian region to miss out on the London state funeral on Monday because of logistical problems.
Meanwhile New Zealand’s delegation headed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and including Māori King Kiingi Tūheitia arrived in London on Wednesday.
The Australian flight will also give the Australian Government an opportunity to talk with Pacific leaders. There will be an address to world leaders by King Charles III before the funeral.
The Fijian pallbearer
A young soldier from Fiji says he was humbled when asked to be one of the select few to take on the duties of a pallbearer for the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Peni Tubuna is a member of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Edinburgh, and was asked to be a pallbearer following news the Queen had died late last week.
Photographs and video footage which started to appear online and via news channels around the world showed Tubuna among eight pallbearers – all dressed in their formal finery – carrying the Queen’s coffin on their shoulders.
The 21-year-old who hails from the Fijian province of Rewa, acknowledged the privilege he had been given in his role and what it means to his people back in the islands.
“I felt blessed that being a Fijian, I was given such an important task,” he told the Fiji Times.
“But I accepted it with humility because this is my job – it is a role I have to fulfill as a soldier.”
Mr Tubuna said he was told he would be a pallbearer on the same day the Queen died. He then called his family in Fiji – including his proud father.