Although Queen Elizabeth doesn’t venture out too far from one of her lavish homes anymore, she does welcome occasional visitors. In the documentary film Queen of the World (which premiered October 1 on HBO), we see Her Majesty meet with a woman from the small island country of Tonga, which is one of the 16 Commonwealth realms of the monarchy. Elizabeth Kite (who is named after the royal) earned the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for her work with educational initiatives for her country’s youth and disabled individuals. Cameras captured the younger Elizabeth buzzing with excitement as she walked through the hallways to meet with her namesake.
As they chatted, the queen admitted that she hadn’t been to Tonga in a very long time. Her last visit to the country, which is located near Fiji, was in 1977. When asked whether she enjoyed her time there, the royal was quick to respond, “Oh yes, it was wonderful. We had people playing the nose flute outside the window. Just the most extraordinary thing.”
One aspect she didn’t quite seem to enjoy while visiting the area, however, was the traditional way of sitting at gatherings. Rather than using a chair, it’s customary in Tonga to simply sit cross-legged on the floor. Kite immediately acknowledged how that can become uncomfortable after long periods of time. The queen then joked that her body wasn’t “built in the same direction” to make the position more comfortable — yet she still had a smile on her face even as she described it as “quite painful.”
At the time of her first visit in 1953, Queen Elizabeth was fairly new to her role on the throne. She and Prince Philip stopped on the island during their Royal Tour, which spanned 1953 and 1954. They were greeted by Queen Salote who, like Queen Elizabeth in the UK, reigned longer than any other monarch of Tonga. Both queens clearly inspired Kite and her work helping others. It’s also nice to know that Queen Elizabeth can now laugh off any discomfort she apparently felt and focus more on the happy memories of her trip!