Tongan royals have traditionally married within the family or of a similar social status.
Princesses Salote Lupepau’u Tuita, sixth in line to the throne, will marry a former Tongan rugby national, Epeli Taione, while Princess Frederica Tuita, who is 10th in line, is marrying Johnny Filipe, the son of a businessman.
Princess Frederica recently wrote on her website that the idea marrying to raise one’s status or replenish one’s blue blood has reached its peak and end.
In an interview with online news site TheWhatItDo.com, she said she met her fiancé at her sister’s 21st birthday, but getting to know him wasn’t easy.
“It’s been a difficult process, because I already have a number of expectations placed upon me, I have a lot of duties that I have to fulfil,” she said.
“It was difficult to start dating Johnny, because I felt the need to please everyone – including Johnny – so it was like a balancing act really.
“I had to balance my relationship with Johnny as well as my duties to the family and to the country.”
As well as marrying a non-Royal, Princess Frederica’s wedding will be held in an Anglican church in New Zealand, rather than a Free Wesleyan church, which is headed by the King.”I have to take into consideration that I’m not marrying someone who everyone expected me to marry,” Princess Frederica Tuita said.
“The truth is that Johnny and I wanted a Western ‘Palagi’ type wedding, we didn’t want it to be too traditional.”
Under Tonga’s constitution, King Tupou VI has the power to annul both marriages if he chooses.
Tongan political scientist Dr Malakai Koloamatangi has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat while that has happened in the past, these princesses are likely to be far enough down the succession order for their marriages to survive.
“The one that’s tenth in line probably has less to worry about than the one who’s number six,” he said.
“Having said that, things have slightly changed…there’s a history of these marriages being annulled, but there’s also another history where more and more these family members are getting away with things.
“The pool from which they choose their spouses is becoming very, very small – so…either you consent to marrying someone who’s very, very close to you in blood, or you chose to marry someone outside.”
Last July, the marriage between Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and his second cousin, Sinaitakala Fakafanua, sparked debate both in Tonga and overseas over the genetic implications of cousins marrying.
Social media response to the princesses’ plans has been mixed, with many young Tongans supporting the idea, while some older citizens say they expected more from the Royal family.