Palace Event Remembers the ‘Peacock Princess’

Enjoy a free Afternoon at Hulihe’e Palace 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 to remember the late Princess Kaiulani. Presenting hula and serenade by the Merrie Monarchs, the event is part of a year-long series that honors Hawai‘i’s past monarchs and historical figures; donations are appreciated. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

Princess Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaiulani

Princess Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaiulani

Princess Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaiulani was the last heir to the Hawaiian throne. Born in 1875 to Princess Miriam Likelike, she was the niece of King Kalakaua.

“Her father was an Edinburgh Scot named Archibald Cleghorn, who was a governor of O‘ahu,” says Casey Ballao, docent coordinator. “The young princess, who was especially fond of peacocks, lived in Waikiki at the garden estate of Ainahau. Today, it is the present location of the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel.”

A fellow Scot, Robert Lewis Stevenson, became friends with Princess Kaiulani and he wrote numerous poems about his “fair maiden.” Known for her grace and hospitality, Kaiulani traveled abroad and studied in London as a teenager. Though a long way from Hawai‘i, she soon found herself in the fight to save the monarchy from American annexationists.

“Kaiulani went to Washington and visited President Grover Cleveland and his wife to plead her cause,” adds Ballao. “Enchanted by the young, beautiful and fashionable Kaiulani, President Cleveland sent a personal representative to Hawai‘i to report on the political situation.”

Kaiulani’s aunt, Queen Lili‘uokalani, and others suggested the princess choose a husband to help Hawai‘i’s political situation: the nephew of the Emperor of Japan or her Hawaiian cousin, Prince David Kawananakoa. Bitter and disillusioned, Kaiulani realized her chance at the throne was gone forever when Hawai‘i officially became part of the U.S. in August 1898.

A few months later, after attending a wedding at Parker Ranch, Kaiulani got caught in a cold and cutting “Waimea rain” and the princess became seriously ill. “Her father came to the Big Island with the family doctor and Kaiulani improved at Mana enough to be carried by litter to a ship bound for Honolulu,” explains Ballao. “Back at Ainahau, her illness persisted, worsened and she died in two months; Kaiulani was 23 years old.”

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.  Also, beginning October 18, the palace will be open 5-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through the holiday season. Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins. The Daughters was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

2013 Afternoon at Hulihe‘e schedule: 4-5 p.m. on the palace grounds

All Afternoons at Hulihe’e present hula by Na Pua U‘i O Hawai‘i Hula Halau and vocals by the Merrie Monarchs. Some events also include the Hulihe’e Palace Band and are noted below. On band dates, only kahiko hula is showcased. Other events offer a full hula show.

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