7 Jul 2006

Tonga's Prince Tu'ipelehake killed in car accident

9:57 am on 7 July 2006

Two members of Tonga's Royal family, the King's nephew, Prince Tu'ipelehake, and his wife Princess Kaimana, died in a car accident in San Francisco last night.

The two and their driver, Vinisia Hefa, were killed when a teenage driver hit their vehicle at high speed just before 9 p.m. yesterday at Menlo Park near Palo Alto.

Our correspondent in Nuku'alofa, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the news will be a shock to all Tongans.

"Prince Tu'ipelehake is seen by the people as the people's prince. He has been dubbed during the recent strike by the civil servants as the prince of the people. He is the noble with the highest rank who has worked with the people towards democratic reform. He has supported the people inside parliamennt, voting with the people's representatives. He has been to the King personally requesting that political reform takes place, and now he has passed away. The link between the commoners and the nobility has been broken."