Monday, February 27, 2006


King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of the kingdom of Tonga became the 42nd world leader to respond to my letter. More importantly, however, he became the first leader to outright reject my request as a matter of policy.

The letter reads: Thank you for your letter and your interest in Tonga. We regret, however, to inform you that the Palace Office does not distribute stamps or photographs and that it is not customary for his majesty to sign autographs.

I cannot help but wonder why Tonga has such policies and customs. What could be so wrong with a signed photo? Is it a cultural issue? It is especially puzzling considering that Tonga's main source of hard currency is from tourism.

I did notice that while the postmark is mostly illegible, there is an official Tonga government seal in the lower left area of the envelope. This seal has a date with an actual signature. The signature is the same as the one on the envelope and thus we can assume it belongs to the 'Private Secretary to His Majesty'. However, neither the envelope nor the letter gives us this person's name.

For more on Tonga see its Wikipedia entry here.


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