Friday, July 07, 2006

Two Tongan royals killed in Calif. auto crash

Two members of the Tongan royal family were killed Wednesday after a teenager racing her car crashed into their vehicle.

Prince Tu'ipelehake, 56, a leader of Tonga's political reform movement, and his wife Princess Kaimana, 46, died together with the driver of the red Ford Explorer carrying the royal couple.

A Tongan crest is shown at the house of the Tonga's royal family in Hillsborough, Calif., Thursday, July 6, 2006.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
A Tongan crest on the house gate of a Tongan royal family residence in Hillsborough, Calif., Thursday, July 6, 2006. AP/Paul Sakuma photo via Yahoo News.

The prince was visiting California to confer with local Tongans on changes to the kingdom's political system.

Tonga is the last monarchy in the Pacific led by 88-year-old King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, and the nation has experienced clamor lately by those urging political reform. Last week an anti-monarchy protester crashed his car into the gate of the king's New Zealand residence and lit it on fire.