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The Rev. Havili Mone of the Tongan United Methodist Church offered condolences Sunday to family members of Prince Tu'ipelehake and Princess Kaimana and urged his congregation to wear black to show respect for the Tongan royals who died Wednesday in a California car wreck.

The prince, who was on a political and information-gathering mission to Tongan communities in the United States, never had a chance to present his National Committee for Political Reform platform. He and his wife were to meet with Mone and others at the West Valley City church Thursday as part of his outreach to the state's 8,500 Tongans.

After church Sunday, Mele Kefu mourned the prince and princess. "Everybody in Polynesia is sad," she said.

Sioeli Uluakiola, the church's assistant choir director, said the deaths have brought the community together in grief.

"We value our royalty," said Uluakiola, a Utah resident since leaving Tonga in 1979. "We were brought up that way."

Tonga's is the single remaining monarchy in the South Pacific, and Tu'ipelehake's death is considered a setback for his political-reform movement, according to an analysis posted on the Matangi Tonga Online Web site. He was to have presented his findings in Tonga's communities in five American cities, Australia and New Zealand by Sept. 30.

Tu'ipelehake, 56, was known as "the people's prince" for leading a protest march in August of more than 3,000 civil servants and supporters to petition King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, his uncle, who observed his 88th birthday Tuesday.

The striking civil servants, who demanded higher wages and social justice, brought the country's government to a near-standstill for 18 days. The action led to the formation of a royal commission to review the Tonga Constitution with the intent of considering a more democratic society.

Mone and others said they respected the prince's work though they support Tonga's monarchy and though they now live under a representative democracy in the United States.

But Mone believes the monarchy in Tonga, a cluster of islands 3,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, works well.

"The present king is the best the community has ever had," Mone said. "He rules for the betterment of the whole community."

The tiny island nation shouldn't turn to an American-style system because it can't afford it financially or politically, he said. Western-style government would only sharpen troubling community divisions, Mone said. Already, Tongan-American children have little or no understanding of monarchy's good side, he added.

John Nai is an exception. The 18-year-old Granger High graduate's father, Siosifa Nai, is the royal family's spokesman, a position Nai said he likely will inherit.

The senior Nai and two of John Nai's uncles next week will fly to Tonga with the royal couple's bodies for a funeral there. No memorial services are planned in the United States, John Nai said.

Tongans' split on the question of government is compounded by the younger generation's inability or unwillingness to speak Tongan or learn island customs, he said.

The younger Nai, who speaks Tongan and plans to return to the island for three years of cultural enrichment after earning an associate's degree, said he, too, believes Tonga should remain a monarchy even though he also believes in democracy.

"We have had good kings," he said. "It's not like any of them are bad."

The prince, a Tongan Parliament representative, was educated in New Zealand and trained in several civic disciplines. During her career, Princess Kaimana, 45, worked for the Tongan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Tongan High Commission in London. The couple had no children.

They and their driver, Vinisia Hefa, 36, died on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park, Calif., south of San Francisco.

An 18-year-old woman racing her 1988 Mustang against a Cadillac Escalade at speeds of up to 100 mph attempted to pass the couple's Ford Explorer on the right and hit them, police said. Hefa apparently lost control of the Ford, which went off the highway and rolled several times.

The woman, who got her driver license in February, was not hurt. She was arrested and jailed on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter in lieu of $3 million bond.