The last time Lieutenant Commander Ametisi Fonokolafi of His Majesty’s Armed Forces Tonga rubbed shoulders with royalty, he was commanding a patrol boat with the Tongan royal family on board almost 10 years ago.
CAPTION: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, of Tonga, right, with current student Lieutenant Commander Ametisi Fonokolafi at the Australian Defence College, Canberra. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.
Last month, he met royalty again when His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala visited the Australian Defence College.
A former student himself, the Crown Prince was invited to tour his old campus and meet past and current students during a visit to Canberra.
“By visiting today, he is building relationships with his past and acknowledging Tongan students attending the course,” Lieutenant Commander Fonokolafi said.
In addition to Lieutenant Commander Fonokolafi, 14 other personnel from His Majesty’s Armed Forces are studying or completing secondments in Australia at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Royal Military College – Duntroon and universities.
Until recently, the Crown Prince was among the cohort.
No stranger to the nation’s capital, he lived in Canberra with his family for almost five years while he completed his studies.
The Crown Prince has two postgraduate degrees from the Australian National University, including one as part of the Australian Command and Staff Course in 2018.
During his visit to the Weston Creek campus, the Crown Prince stopped to sign the guest book and find his name on the student honour board before afternoon tea in the mess with fellow Australian Command and Staff Course alumni.
He was visiting Australia under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Canberra Fellowships Program.
The program brings pre-eminent and emerging leaders from the Indo-Pacific region to Australia for a personalised program of meetings and events with government, civil society, academic and diaspora communities.