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Tonga Mourns its Island King

By Wendy Osher

The Island of Tonga is preparing a state funeral to honor King George Tupou V who died on Sunday during a visit to Hong Kong.  He was 63.

Senator J. Kalani English of Maui who chairs the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs released a statement this afternoon on the passing.

“I express my deep condolences to the people of Tonga, as well as Hawaii’s Tongan community on the passing of King George Tupou V. His foresight to grant his people democracy will be his legacy to Tonga. I want to express my deepest heartfelt aloha to His Majesty’s family and to the people of Tonga. The Pacific mourns for the loss of a great leader.”

In recent years, His Majesty ceded much of his executive powers as King, to allow for a transition to a more democratic government.

The late monarch will Lay in State at the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa for two days.

A national period of mourning is expected to last for three months, through June 19, 2012.