Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, the beautiful kingdom of Tonga is composed of a over one hundred different islands. The Kingdom of Tonga’s flag, however, is much more simple. Like most flags, its shape is rectangular. The flag is entirely red except for the top left quarter which is white with a red flag in the center. However, it did not always look this way. Read along to discover the rich history of this magnificent flag.
Although the Tonga first had contact with the English sometime around the year 1775, when James Cook of seafaring fame first arrived, it wouldn’t be until several decades later that English missionaries would come to the islands to spread their faith to the people of Tonga.
Converting the local people to Christianity wasn’t an easy task for the missionaries, but they kept at it. It took many years, but they were eventually able to convert a very significant leader of the Tonga people who would later become their king. His name was Taufa’ahau Tupou, but when he converted he changed his name to King George Tupou I as a testament to his faith.
Having successfully converted such a prominent leader, the missionaries were able to spread Christianity to a wider audience of Tonga people. It was also during this period of time that the Kingdom of Tonga designed its first flag. Along with the letters ‘A’ and ‘M’, the original white flag also had a cross. However, that cross represented the King instead of Christianity.
Even though the design has changed, the current flag still bears a cross, this time representing the symbol of Christianity. The King himself instituted this new change. The King didn’t do it alone, though. He had help from his friend, a missionary named Shirley Waldemar Baker who later would become the Prime Minister of Tonga. Together they redesigned the old flag of Tonga to the new red and white design that the Kingdom of Tonga proudly displays to this day.
Despite all of these previous changes, the current Tonga flag is here to stay. According to the Kingdom of Tonga’s Constitution, the flag must never be changed and must remain forever in its current form.