Tonga's royalty meets with the First Presidency

Before accepting an award from a Utah-based organization lauding his efforts to preserve the environment, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga met with the First Presidency in the Church Administration Building Aug. 2.

President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, met with their Pacific island visitors in the North Board Room. Included in the royal party were the King, Queen Halaevalu Mataaho, Princess Pilolevu Tuita, Princess Mele Siuilikutapu Kalaniuvalu-Fotofili and Tonga Consulate General Siosaia M. Tuita.Also attending the meeting were Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy and Church host Mary Ellen Smoot.

Sister Smoot said President Hinckley, during the meeting, expressed gratitude to the king for all he does for the people in Tonga. About 40,000 of 100,000 people living in the island country are members of the Church.

Princess Kalaniuvalu-Fotofili said that the royal visitors appreciate the Church's emphasis on family because family means a great deal to them.

After meeting with the First Presidency, the royal party attended a luncheon in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Elder Wirthlin and his wife, Elisa, Elder Morrison, and Elder Bruce C. Hafen and his wife, Marie, also attended the luncheon.

At the conclusion of the luncheon, the Seacology Foundation, based in Springville, Utah, honored the King of Tonga with the Indigenous Conservationist of the Year Award. The environmental group wanted to thank the monarch for his efforts in protecting flying foxes, a type of bat that is a major pollinator and seed disperser in South Pacific island rain forests. The king has been instrumental in establishing preserves in his country where the bat cannot be hunted.

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