Salote Tupou III: Why she kicks ass
- She was the Queen of Tonga from 5 April 1918 to her death in 1965. Queen Salote was known for being a tall woman, standing at 6 ft 3 inches.
- She ascended to power at the age of 18. While her politically convenient marriage to Viliami Tungi helped join feuding dynasties, it also inspired a loyal partnership, widespread allegiance and a great many love poems written by Queen Salote herself. Queen Salote alone was installed in the pre-eminent title of Tu‘i Kanokupolu. Queen Salote alone was addressed in the sacred language, although both she and Tungi were descended from the ancient line of sacred rulers. Tungi was addressed in the language appropriate for chiefs.
- She used her traditional role of a universal elder sister and became expert in the genealogical connections of her people. Her knowledge of Tongan families extended to a personal interest to their problems. This was repaid with intense loyalty, which some have noted to be unparalleled anywhere else.
- She was focused on public health and education, especially for girls, personally teaching young girls to read. Her legacy includes the largest all girls secondary school in Tonga.
- She was a noted poet and orator. Many of her poetry was set to music and revolutionized Tongan dances like the tau’olunga and the lakalaka.
- She assisted with mapping of Tongan archaeological sites
- With her gift of organization Tonga made a significant contribution to the Allied WWII efforts in the form of a war plane named Queen Salote.
- Her rule and influence kept Tonga as the lone Pacific Kingdom out of colonial rule, instead Tonga joined the Commonwealth as a protected sovereign ally. She was the only other Queen in the Commonwealth. During Queen Elizabeth’s coronation Queen Salote’s jovial appearance in an open carriage despite the pouring rain resulted in great fanfare from London’s crowds, and publicity in the media for her and Tonga.
- She embraced her large, by Western standards, frame despite cruel jabs from outsiders.
“One feels the heaviness of burdens, but I don’t really mind the burden. What I care about is to do things the right way, so that when the time comes for someone else to carry on the work, there are no problems of mine for them. Only those of their own making.” Queen Salote Tupou III