Wednesday, March 6, 2013


“Her lunch.” 

- Noel Coward 

Coward’s above comment, which today would be hugely politically incorrect, was a response to a question as to the identity of a small man in the carriage with Queen Salote of Tonga during the procession.  Salote was a woman large in importance in Tonga and large in body. 

Coward was asked who the tiny man (in comparison) was in the carraige with Queen Salote.  

Coward is said to have peered through the rain and replied "Her lunch." 

Another version holds that Coward responded to an enquiry from Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.  

In a later interview with Walter Harris in 1960 reported in The Times, Coward revealed it had been said by someone at White's Club and was immediately attributed to Coward. "It was very flattering of course, except that I had intended to visit Tonga the following winter, and after that of course it was quite impossible." 

Other sources claim that Coward acknowledged making the comment but that he was not its author. 

Clive James is of the opinion that Coward did say it but disowned authorship to protect his reputation. According to James, even if he didn’t make the remark originally, his quoting of it brought it to public recognition. 

A slightly different version of the incident is offered by Paul Raffaele in his book Among the Cannibals

In 1953, Salote travelled to London for the coronation of Elizabeth 11. Tall, dusky and regal, the Tongan queen’s Polynesian charm dazzled the British. She won their hearts when she insisted on riding in an open carriage through chilly London rain in the coronation procession, smiling and waving as though it were a sunny summer’s day. Queen Elizabeth and all the other dignitaries rode in carriages with the hoods down.  
Salote was splattered with rain but, steeped in Tongan royal custom, she endured the discomfort to show humility and deference to the higher ranked British Queen. Seated opposite Salote in the carriage was a shivering Malay sultan, his gold turban, tunic and pants soaked. “Cold. Get wet, Close roof?” he pleaded.  
“I was naughty,” Salote later confided to a senior British civil servant. “ ‘No understand. No speak English,’ I replied”.  
Noel Coward forever fixed the incident in cannibal legend when, during the procession, he was asked who was the tiny dignitary in the carriage with the massive Tongan queen. “Her lunch,” he replied.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. thank you for patching up this horrible comment of "her lunch" I was shocked when I read the article, and I was also surprised that even the writer or reporter of that article critic our beloved queen and does he think that we would consider him civilized? well I don't think so, because civilized people have manners and respects, eventhough, our queen might be tall and huge comparing to other people sizes but there is no reason to be negative about it, here our island she is a tall woman, but not really in sense, that we Tongans are big and tall people, most of us are taller than her, so therefore, I suggest, perhaps next time it is good not to judge a book by its cover, maybe to know our people first before saying and throwing things at first. I sincerely thank to whom so ever post this article for your generosity to fix the horrendous article that says, "her lunch" because it makes me felt sorry for the person who wrote it, maybe he was racist, selfish and arrogant! We are big people with big heart, that's why we are known as the Friendly Isle of Tonga. We love everyone despite their country of origin, faith, intelligent and morale values. Queen Salote Tupou the III is a woman of dignity and integrity. I adore her, even though I haven't met here in person, because she passed away before I was even born. But her legacy still remains and she will never be forgotten! 'Ofa atu Kuini Salote, bless us from above!

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    1. i agree with you Robert, what a crass and ignorant thing to say, I never personally met Queen Salote nor did I grow up in Tonga, but my father did and he spoke in the highest regard of Queen Salote who was loved and respected by many

  4. I'm sure one day, after this life, we will all laugh about the comment... I don't feel that the queen of Tonga, Salote, will hold it against, who ever came out with it... she's too formidable to even twitch at the matter... she was very great I hear... lol


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