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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 17) - The official program for the funeral of the late Prince Tu'ipelehake and the late Princess Kaimana on July 20-21 will be released on Wednesday, Paula Ma'u, the Deputy Secretary to Cabinet said today.

The delay in releasing the program to the public was because, "it is not a state funeral, but just a royal family funeral, similar to that of the late noble Ma'atu."

He said that because it is a Royal Funeral, a lot of details had to be approved by the royal family.

"There will be no public holiday, no tapu, meaning no closures of night clubs, and things like that. It will be just a matter of conscience for the public."

Flags will be flying at half-mast only on Friday, the burial day, "the only government service that will be closed down, is Talamahu Market, on Thursday and half a day on Friday, because the serving of food to the public during the Takipo will be carried out at the central bus stop."

Paula reconfirmed that the remains of Prince Tu'ipelehake and Princess Kaimana are expected to arrive in Tonga on Thursday, July 20 at 8:30 a.m. on an Air New Zealand flight from the USA. They will then be transported from Fua'amotu Airport to their residence, Fatai, on the Nuku'alofa waterfront.

Paula said it had not been confirmed if school children would be standing on the sides of the road, all the way from the airport to Nuku'alofa, or if only the school children of the village of Pelehake, the estate of Prince Tu'ipelehake will be standing on the sides of the road. He said that the Ministry of Education had not confirmed what they would like to do.

"Government services will operate normally," said Paula.

Following the Takipo on Thursday night the funeral service will be held at the Centenary Church, Nuku'alofa, at about mid-day, then the funeral procession is expected to leave for Lapaha at about 2:30 p.m.

At Loma, the Catholic Church compound at Lapaha the Prince and the Princess will be transferred to the catafalca, which will be hand carried to the Langi Na Moala, their final resting place.

Paula said that many overseas dignitaries, friends and relatives of the royal couple are expected to attend the funeral.

The royal couple died in a road accident in California on July 6.

July 18, 2006

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