Royal etiquette in Tonga demands many things - among them, standing for photos to be taken in a nonchalant pose with your visitors and pretending the cameras aren't there. No questions are to be asked and no interaction had.Well, ok. I guess that brings up some constitutional issues. Let's continue.
This isn't in the lifestyle section, if you were wondering. It's by a Herald political correspondent. We are then told that Poobah - "presumably named after his rather haughty namesake in the Mikado" - has allegedly "damaged five SUVs". This seems more in line with serious journalism; after all this is the sort of ecoterrorism that could see Poobah spending up to 22 years in prison.
The King had released the royal "corgis" for the occasion - Poobah - a low-slung, rotund beast of black fur and indeterminate breeding and Estelle, a wire-haired Jack Russell, who did at least have the colouring of a corgi.
While Mr Key stood beside Tonga's King George Tupou V on the lawn for photos after their first meeting, Estelle bounded about leaping on both the reporters and the dignitaries pretending they weren't having their photos taken.
Poobah concentrated on hustling Estelle away before grovelling for pats for himself.
I could go on, like the reporter does, about the dogs and the jokes the king told - oh, the times they had! - but it's one of those situations where I just don't know what to write. I'm sure I've said it before: it's like spoofing a spoof. When political reporting is this... wait, is this completely unironic, or is it so dripping with irony that it just seems that way? Anyway, when political reporting is like this, there's not much you can do but shake your head. Or write about it on a blog for cheap laughs.
To be fair, the article does treat some of the heavier issues at the end (presumably after most Herald readers have stopped reading):
Phew, that was close. You almost made a serious point.
Of the incident of the trousered women [not being allowed onto the royal compound], Mr Key took a diplomatic stance, noting it was a deeply conservative country and the wardrobe etiquette was signalled well enough in advance to have given his wife Bronagh - accompanying him on the trip - some anxious moments.
"Each country has its own standards, There needs to be an acknowledgement that Tonga is a very religious and quite conservative country.
"Yes, it is evolving and coming of age in the way we might see things but it wouldn't be for New Zealand to dictate what is appropriate attire or standards in other countries."
Progress being made elsewhere - including the King's determination to pass the constitutional and electoral changes that will dilute his own powers - also impressed Mr Key, and so he finished with some with some wardrobe advice of his own:
"I think you've got to take your hat off to the King."