Queen Elizabeth jokes about struggling to sit cross-legged on her 1953 Tonga visit

'Oku taupotu 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

In the concluding episode of Queen of the World, which explores Her Majesty’s role as head of the Commonwealth as she gradually passes the baton to younger members of the royal family, she reflects on her visit as a 27-year-old newly anointed monarch, and recalls finding it difficult to sit cross-legged, as is the custom in Tonga.

‘It’s quite painful for people who are not built in the same direction,’ the Queen quips during a meeting with Elizabeth Kite, a women’s activist from Tonga and a winner of a Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

The Queen also recalls the sound of nose flutes being played outside her window on the visit, which she describes as ‘just the most extraordinary thing’.

The Queen jokes in a new ITV documentary that sitting cross-legged for long periods proved rather ‘painful’ during her 1953 visit to Tonga, on her Commonwealth tour with Prince Phillip

In the concluding episode of the two-part ITV documentary Queen of the World, Her Majesty reflects on her visit to Tonga with the Duke of Edinburgh 65 years ago, in a meeting with a young women’s rights activist from the country, Elizabeth Kite

The Queen was welcomed to Tonga in 1953 by Queen Salote, who held a great open-air feast in her honour, where guests sat cross-legged around long, low tables.

The monarch, who has been head of state for 66 years, also talks of how she has met an ‘awful lot of people’ in her role.

She says of Tonga: ‘I haven’t met the new (king).

‘But, you see, I haven’t been for such a long time. I’ve met an awful lot of people.’

The clip also shows the Queen taking charge and making sure everything is running smoothly for the audience with the Queen’s Young Leaders, by directing a member of staff to open a door.

‘Can you open it? No, no this door – push it, push it open, thank you. Otherwise they can’t get in!’ she says with a smile.

On another occasion, she is shown helping the Governor General of Papua New Guinea after knighting him, directing him: ‘Turn around the other way, because that’s where the cameras are.’

The Queen recalled the sound of nose flutes being played outside her window on her visit to Tonga in 1953, which she described as ‘just the most extraordinary thing’

Elizabeth Kite, seen centre, told the cameras she was ‘extremely nervous’ ahead of her audience with the Queen, but afterwards said their meeting was proof ‘anything is possible’

Miss Kite, who was named after the Queen, confessed to being ‘extremely nervous’ ahead of her meeting with the monarch, but said afterwards it was proof that ‘anything is possible’.

‘I just had a chat with the Queen,’ she says after leaving the room. ‘I’m going to wake up tomorrow and feel, like, did that happen? I don’t quite know…

‘Honestly anything really is possible. Whatever it is you dream to be you can actually achieve.’

Queen Salote of Tonga is seen greeting Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh during their 1953 Commonwealth Tour. Her Majesty reflects on the visit in a scene from ITV’s Queen of the World documentary, the second part of which airs tonight.


  1. Fakahua e ta’ahine Kuini Pilitānia’ he’ene manatu ki he’ene faingata’a’ia he anga ‘ene tangautu’ koe’uhiī ko e tu’utu’uni ‘a e angafakafonua faka-Tonga’ ne pau ai ke ne fakata’ane he taimi lahi lolotonga ‘ene ‘a’ahi ki Tonga he 1953.

    Ne lahi tangutu foki ‘eni ia he faliki’ ko ha me’a ne ‘ikai anga ia ki ai.

    Ko ‘ene manatu melie ‘eni ‘i ha faka’eke’eke he uike’ ni ‘i Pilitānia ki ha tokiumeniteli fakatelevīsone ‘e hulu’i fakamāmani lahi ia he poo’ ni.

    Ko ‘ene fiehua ko ‘eni’ ne fai ia lolotonga ha’ane fakataha mo e ta’ahine Tonga ko Elizabeth Kite ‘i Pilitānia, ‘a ia na’a’ ne ikuna ‘a e pale ki he Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

    Na’e kei ta’u 27 ‘a e Kuini’ he folau ko ‘eni’ pea ko e taimi ia ‘o e kei ‘i he taloni’ ‘a Kuini Sālote Tupou III.

    Na’a’ ne toe tōfolofola foki ki he’ene toe fo’ou ki he ongo ‘o e fangufangu’ he taimi ne fai ai ‘a e fakatakatōfā ‘i Palasi’ ko ha me’a ne ‘ikai foki anga mo ia ai.


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