Queen Sālote of Tonga's Prayer for Unity
God our Heavenly Father we draw near to you with thankful hearts because of your great love for us.
We thank you most of all for the gift of your dear Son, in whom alone we may be one.
We are different from each other in race and language, in material things, in opportunities, but each of us has a human heart, knowing joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain.
We are in our need of your forgiveness, your strength, your love.
Make us one in our common response to you so that, bound by a common love and freed from selfish aims, we may work for the good of all and the advancement of your Kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Queen Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III (1900-1965) was educated in New Zealand and was crowned as the ruler of Tonga when she was 18, just one year after her marriage to a cousin also of royal descent. Tonga consists of 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited, and its population is very predominantly Christian. Methodist missionaries played a large role in that and Queen Sālote was a Methodist who believed strongly in Christian unity. In 1924 she was largely responsible for reuniting the Tongan Methodist Church which had split into two factions.
She led Tonga through the Second World War and Tongan troops fought against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign. She was honoured by Britain for her services by being made a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She brought Tonga to world attention by her behaviour at the coronation procession of Queen Elizabeth II on its return from Westminster Abbey in 1953. Standing 6ft 3inches tall, she was hailed as ‘the tallest queen of the smallest kingdom’. When it began to rain all carriages put up hoods except hers, which stayed open. She endured the pouring rain without even an umbrella because she was proud of her country’s traditions and it was the Tongan custom that you should not imitate the action of a person you were honouring. The press reported how she remained ‘heartily waving a powerful bare arm, happy as though all the sun of the friendly isles were beating down’. She was the most cheered person after Queen Elizabeth.
At the time of her enthronement she had faced considerable hostility (as a child she had been confined indoors because it was judged her life would be in danger if she ventured outside) but her behaviour as Queen led to her becoming a much-loved and immensely popular monarch. She was able to heal divisions among her people and make all Tongans proud of their history and traditions whilst also developing much stronger links with the outside world. Her death from cancer in 1965 after a reign of 47 years came as a great blow to the Tongan people. Her son and successor has tried to maintain Tonga’s special relationship with Britain.
Above - Queen Sālote in coronation robes, 1918
(photo credit: ROSL archives)
Above - Queen Sālote as a young girl in traditional Tongan clothes
(photo credit: Museum of Samoa)
Above - Queen Sālote with Queen Elizabeth, 1953
(photo credit: ROSL archives)