Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i, Part2

Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i: Part 2

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A princess in training, a surfing legend, Dr. Jekyll, and Sherlock Holmes. You’re welcome.


File Under: Fascinating Royal & Noble Women
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When we last left Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i, her mom, Princess Likelike, had died at the young age of 36. Her uncle, King Kalākaua, faced a growing threat from white settlers in Hawai‘i, who banded together to create a new political party called the Independents. Two of the most prominent members of that party were Lorrin Thurston and Sanford Dole – we’ll hear more about them later. At this point, the king was walking a tightrope, trying to balance the needs of native Hawaiians with the greed of the sugar planters, who felt they should have more control over Hawai‘i’s economy and politics.

Now let’s pick up our story in 1877, the year of Princess Likelike’s death.

Rather watch a video than read a post? I’ve got you covered:

The Bayonet Constitution

In Hawai‘i, there had always been a tradition of strong women among the ali’i. And maybe – just maybe – Lorrin Thurston, Sanford Dole, and the other members of the Independent party understood this. Because intentionally or not, they waited until two of the kingdom’s most powerful women were gone to make their move.

In the spring of 1887, rulers from all over the world prepared to gather in London that June to celebrate Queen Victoria’s fifty years on the British throne. The political situation was too dicey for the king to leave, so he sent his wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, and the heir to the throne, his sister, Princess Lili’uokalani. I’m going to call her Lili’u from here on out since she never liked the made-up longer version of her name bestowed on her by the king, her brother.

Crown Princess Lili‘uokalani, aunt of Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i.

I wrote a post for my Patreon supporters with some interesting tidbits about this trip – so if that’s something you’d like to see, click or tap here.

Lili’u had already met Queen Victoria’s second son, Prince Alfred Duke of Edinburgh, when he visited Hawai‘i ten years earlier, in 1876. He gave Lili‘u a gold bracelet you can see today in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. During that visit, an ali‘i family gave their newborn baby the name “Duke” in Alfred’s honor. Many years later, that baby grew up and named his own son Duke. Today, we know him as the legendary Hawaiian surfer and swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku.

Duke Kahanamoku standing in front of a tall wooden surfboard printed with his name. He's wearing an early 20th century swimming costume that looks like a long, tight tanktop.
Duke Kahanamoku by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Ka‘iulani followed her aunts’ adventures in the newspapers, as they traveled more than 7,000 miles to London. She wrote to Lili’u: “From what I have read in the papers, I thought you must be having a most delightful time; how I wish that I could have been with you to see all the grand sights in those beautiful cities.” (Linnéa, 60)

The Hawaiian newspapers reprinted articles from the American papers, reporting on where the Hawaiian royals went and what they did. One article, originally posted in the paper New York Exchanges, said that Queen Kapiʻolani always appeared in black as a sign of mourning for her sister-in-law…except the New York paper apparently couldn’t bring itself to print Likelike’s name; they called her “a Princess with an extremely protracted name.”

Screenshot of the newspaper clipping from The Pacific Commercial Advertiser on June 28, 1887 with the following text: "When the Queen appears in public she is always dressed in black, for she is in mourning for the King's sister, a Princess with an extremely protracted name."
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, June 28, 1887 via Newspapers.com.

The inability of the English-speaking press to deal with Hawaiian names is a theme we’ll see over and over again, unfortunately.

But while the women were gone, things back home were going from bad to worse.

That spring, the white planters and businessmen ramped up their attacks on the royal family and what they saw as a corrupt, inefficient government. They ran hate-filled editorials in Honolulu newspapers. They used their positions in local government to block efforts to provide better education for native Hawaiians. They were so hard to deal with that Ka‘iulani’s father Archie gave up his seat on the Board of Education because they made it impossible to get anything done.

They were so hard to deal with that Ka‘iulani’s father Archie gave up his seat on the Board of Education because they made it impossible to get anything done.

Some of them created a secret club called the Hawaiian League, with the goal of limiting the king’s power. For the most part, the members were foreign businessmen, immigrants, and the children of immigrants. Some of them may have had Hawaiian parents or ancestors, but no one in the club was a full-blooded native Hawaiian. Not one.

What made them so dangerous was the fact that they controlled an all-white volunteer militia called the Honolulu Rifles. They stockpiled guns and ammunition, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Three white men in a posed photograph wearing military-style coats and pants with sabers and pickelhaube helmets.
Members of the Honolulu Rifles dressed in uniform by an unknown photographer,
public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

That moment came on June 30, 1887 when the Hawaiian League held an anti-royalist rally. With about a thousand people present, Lorrin Thurston read a list of their demands for the king. Even though most of the Hawaiian League members were not Hawaiian citizens, they demanded the right to vote and hold office. They demanded a new constitution. They also demanded that the king not interfere with the legislation.

King Kalākaua in military uniform with over-the-knee embroidered boots.
King Kalākaua by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Look at those nifty boots!

The king realized he had no choice but to do as they asked. So Thurston drafted a new constitution and brought it to him for signature on July 6, 1887.

The king took one look at it and said, “You’re kidding me, right?”

The king took one look at the new constitution and said, “You’re kidding me, right?”

But they weren’t. The new constitution took away almost all his power, and he protested for hours…but it did no good.  The men of the Honolulu Rifles were outside the palace, at the cabinet’s command – not his. He had no choice but sign what became known as the Bayonet Constitution.

When Kapiʻolani and Lili’u arrived in New York, they heard the bad news. Worried about what they’d find when they got home, they had a tense journey back to Honolulu.

Lili‘u standing beside Kapiʻolani, who is seated wearing her famous peacock gown.
Kapiʻolani (seated) and Lili’u at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Four months ago, the kingdom had been stable – not in great shape, but stable, with three native Hawaiians in cabinet posts. Now, there were none. The king was a pawn and one of their enemies, Lorrin Thurston, was the new Minister of the Interior.

The men who now controlled the government forced the king to renew the reciprocity treaty with the United States. In the previous version of the treaty, the U.S. had required Hawai‘i to refuse to lease any Hawaiian land to another nation. This time, the U.S. went one step further. They decided to lease Pearl Harbor as a repair and refueling station for 8 years. Despite the fact that he didn’t want to grant the lease, the king had no choice but to sign the treaty.

“You did what?” Lili’u asked when she got home, furious at what her brother had done.

Lili‘u in a gorgeous black dress with a deep scoop neckline that's beaded with three rows of sparkling beads.
Lili’u by James J. Williams, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Later, in her memoir, she wrote: “It may be true that they really believed us unfit to be trusted to administer the growing wealth of the Islands in a safe and proper way. But if we manifested any incompetency, it was in not foreseeing that they would be bound by no obligations, by honor, or by oath of allegiance, should an opportunity arise for seizing our country, and bringing it under the authority of the United States.” (Lili‘uokalani, ch XXX)

“…if we manifested any incompetency, it was in not foreseeing that they would be bound by no obligations…should an opportunity arise for seizing our country…”

Lili‘uokalani

If Hawai‘i seems like it’s in dire shape at this point, well, it kind of is. And if you find yourself reaching for a drink, you’re not alone.

So let’s lighten the mood by getting back to Ka‘iulani…and a visit from the author of one of the best psychological thrillers ever written.

Only the Lonely

We just covered a lot of ground about politics in Hawai‘i. And although we need that background to understand what happened next, it doesn’t give us a whole lot of illumination about Ka‘iulani personally. So let’s get back to her life, now that we know more about the forces shaping the world around her.

Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i in a white, lacy Victorian day dress with elbow-length sleeves.
Ka‘iulani photographed by James J. Williams, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

One of those forces may have been her father’s loneliness.

Less than a year after her mother’s death, in January of 1888, a strange entry appears in Lili‘u’s diary regarding Archie. When she went to go see a friend, Louisa Brickwood, she found Louisa lying sick on her sofa – and Archie by her side. Lili’u doesn’t provide us with any commentary, and it might have meant nothing…until we get to another diary entry, almost a month later.

There, we find this entry: “Had message from Archie reminding me of the anniversary of Sister’s death tomorrow…If he were only true to her memory, for I hear he had proposed to Lou[isa Brickwood].” Lou, of course, was Louisa Brickwood.

“Had message from Archie reminding me of the anniversary of Sister’s death tomorrow…If he were only true to her memory, for I hear he had proposed to Lou.”

Lili‘uokalani

Wow, right?

I didn’t find any hard evidence of Archie’s proposal. At the time, Louisa Brickwood was a well-respected 39-year-old school teacher.

But Lili’u – determined to reinforce Likelike’s memory – took Ka‘iulani with her to visit Likelike’s tomb. That summer, it’s clear Archie and Louisa continued to see each other. One time, Lili’u bumped into Louisa at ʻĀinahau. Louisa also went with Archie and Ka‘iulani on a tour of the U.S.S. Adams.

Archibald Scott Cleghorn in  a dark jacket and white shirt. He has short dark hair and a full white beard and mustache.
Archie by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

And apparently, Lili’u and I aren’t the only ones wondering what’s going on. On July 31, the king asked Lili’u to talk to Archie. He said Ka‘iulani “must have a good home.” (Forbes, 197)

Thanks to Lili‘u’s brevity as a diary writer, we’re missing the full context of what the king meant here. But clearly he was concerned about the goings-on under Archie’s roof.

That October, Ka‘iulani turned 13 and Archie threw a big party to celebrate. Ka‘iulani greeted their guests surrounded by the traditional symbols of Hawaiian royalty, including feathered standards called kahili.

Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i wearing several leis, seated on the floor, surrounded by guests and flanked by two retainers holding tall feathered standards over her.
A party at ʻĀinahau – Ka‘iulani is seated between her kahili bearers. Image by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

That birthday was a turning point. Up to now, she’d had a governess and private tutors who taught her music, English, and composition. When lessons were over, she could go surfing, swim, play music, or ride her pony.

But the heir to a kingdom needed a better education than a handful of tutors could provide. So her father and the king decided to send her abroad to England. He’d already sent his wife’s nephews to a military academy in California, with a plan for further study in England afterward.

David Kawānanakoa, Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole, and Edward Abnel Keliʻiahonui posed together wearing military-style coats, caps, and pants.
The 3 nephews of Queen Kapiʻolani in the uniforms of their military academy: David Kawānanakoa (seated), Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole (L) and Edward Abnel Keliʻiahonui (R). Image by Rieman and Pray, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s no surprise that the idea of being sent away from everyone she knew scared her. But just when she needed a friend, one arrived in a very unlikely package.

The Write Stuff

On January 24, 1889, the famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson arrived on O‘ahu. The world knew him for his bestselling books Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But as vibrant as his imagination was, in real life, he was pale and sick with tuberculosis. Extremely thin with long dark hair, Stevenson was a romantic figure as he cruised the South Pacific in a chartered yacht, looking for warmer temperatures that might help alleviate his condition.

Robert Louis Stevenson in a dark jacket and tie. He has long brown hair that hangs past his ears and a full mustache and small goatee.

But as it turns out, he fell in love. Not with a person, but with an entire people – the Polynesians.

Stevenson’s stepdaughter, Isobel, had married Hawai‘i’s court painter. So he stopped in Hawai‘i to see her. He and his family borrowed a bungalow on Waikiki, where he could work on his current project, a serialized novel called The Master of Ballantrae.

Robert Louis Stevenson lounging on a chair with five members of his family in the background.
Robert Louis Stevenson and his family in Hawai‘i by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

After a week of vacation on the Big Island, he wrote to a friend: “I have just been a week away alone on the lee coast of Hawai‘i…a lovely week among God’s best – at least God’s sweetest – works, Polynesians…If I could only stay there the time that remains, I could get my work done and be happy; but the care of a large, costly…family keeps me in vile Honolulu, where I am always out of sorts, amidst heat and cold and cesspools and beastly haoles. What is a haole? You are one, and so, I am sorry to say, am I.” (Stevenson, 128-129)

“What is a haole? You are one, and so, I am sorry to say, am I.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

The king introduced Stevenson to Archie, a fellow Scot. Archie invited Stevenson to dinner and the writer struck up an unlikely friendship with Ka‘iulani.

Robert Louis Stevenson sitting at a table with King Kalākaua, both are wearing leis.
Robert Louis Stevenson and the king by Henry Walter Barnett, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite her schedule of morning lessons and his schedule of writing sessions, he’d make time to walk up the beach to ʻĀinahau in the afternoon to say hello.

The two of them would sit for hours in the garden, under her enormous banyan tree, and talk. She asked him questions about England, and they shared their worries – Ka‘iulani about going away to school, and Stevenson about his lack of financial success. He joked that unless another royalty check arrived soon, he’d be applying to work at the palace for her uncle. (Webb, 65)

Ka‘iulani (sitting on a branch of her banyan tree. She is with Annie Cleghorn, another woman, and four men.
Ka‘iulani (right) and friends under her banyan tree. Image by Capt. Nicholls, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Theirs was a brief, sweet friendship – but nothing more. Some people think it’s weird that a grown man could enjoy talking to a 13-year-old girl without there being something romantic behind it. But Stevenson loved Hawai‘i, loved Hawaiians, and was probably happy to talk to someone who didn’t expect anything from him.

The good news was that her trip to England was only supposed to last a year. The king gave her formal permission to leave the country, specifying that her travel would be incognito. Incognito meant she wasn’t traveling on state business and, for the purposes of this trip, was simply a private citizen. In other words, no red carpet, no state dinners or receptions, no political duties.

Kaiulani and one of her older half-sisters (Rose or Helen) and a Mrs. Stanton standing in the garden at ʻĀinahau.
Ka‘iulani, one of her older half-sisters (Rose or Helen), and a Mrs. Stanton by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Her permission specified that she was to come home in 1890. But that’s not what happened. Not by a long shot. By the time she set foot on Hawaiian soil again, she was a worldwide celebrity…and a player in the fight for her country’s survival.

Boarding School Blues

As Ka‘iulani packed up and prepared to leave, Robert Louis Stevenson picked up her red autograph book and wrote a poem to try and comfort her:

Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the island rose,
Light of heart and bright of face,
The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here in southern sun
Shall mourn their Ka‘iulani gone,
And I, in her dear banyan’s shade,
Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away
Shall glitter with unwonted day,
And cast for once their tempest by
To smile in Ka‘iulani’s eye.

Two days before leaving, she and Archie had a reception at ʻĀinahau, where her friends could come and wish her well. The Royal Hawaiian Band played outside for four hours to serenade her.

37 men in band uniforms holding their instruments on the steps of ʻIolani Palace.
The Royal Hawaiian Band by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, the big day arrived.

On May 10, 1889, Ka‘iulani walked up the gangplank of the ship that would carry her across the Pacific, the S.S. Umatilla.

The S.S. Umatilla, a long passenger ship, sailing in open water.
The S.S. Umatilla by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The band on the dock played the Hawaiian national anthem as a crowd of well-wishers waved goodbye. But she wasn’t going alone – her dad was coming as far as California, and he was sending her best friend and half-sister, Annie, to England with her.

In San Francisco, she said goodbye to her dad and tearfully continued the journey across the U.S. by train, with Annie and the British Vice-Consul’s wife as a chaperone. In New York, the girls boarded a steamer for Liverpool, followed by a train to Manchester and then London.

When Ka‘iulani and Annie finally arrived in London on June 18, they had plenty of time for sightseeing – school wouldn’t start until September. They saw Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Crystal Palace, and took in some theater performances. Ka‘iulani wrote excited letters to the king and queen, telling them about the London theaters and the gorgeous paintings by Reynolds and Titian.

A gorgeous multi-story building made of glass with a large arched entryway.
The Crystal Palace south transept by Philip Henry Delamotte, Negretti and Zambra, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

After she left, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to a friend in Paris, “If you want to cease to be a republican, see my little Ka‘iulani as she goes through…though she is but a half-blood, and the wrong half Edinburgh Scots like mysel’.”  (Stevenson, 130) To help remind her of home, he sent a gift to her at school: a teak and rosewood music box that you can see today at the Hulihe’e Palace on the island of Hawai’i.

Hulihe’e Palace by Marshman, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

But of course, you can’t send your teenage daughter half a world away without someone to keep an eye on her.

Archie had arranged for Ka‘iulani to have a guardian while in England. He chose a family friend, Theo Davies, who divided his time between Hawai‘i and Britain. The Davies family had a luxurious home in Southport, about 170 miles north of Ka‘iulani’s school. It was an easy trip by train for school holidays, and although Davies wouldn’t be on the premises of her school, he’d be within easy reach if she needed anything.

Theophilus Davies in a dark suit and tie. He has a receding hairline and a medium-full beard and mustache.
Theophilus Harris Davies by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Great Harrowden Hall was a prestigious girls’ boarding school in Northamptonshire, about 68 miles outside of London. The building was once owned by a baronial family with ties to Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.  It had secret passages, an interesting history, and extensive grounds that included golf and riding trails. King Charles I was said to have held a Council meeting there. A generation previously, the house was believed to have played host to a meeting of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators (whose goal was to blow up Charles’s father, King James I).

A three-story mansion with a two wings on either side of an entry that juts forward.
Great Harrowden Hall as it appears today by R Neil Marshman, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This was the first time Ka‘iulani had ever been in a class with other students. She and Annie studied French, German, math, history, and English literature. The students spent mornings in class, and the afternoons doing homework and playing games like tennis and cricket.

That Christmas, she was able to see her cousin, Kawānanakoa, nicknamed Koa. Both he and his brother were studying at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire. Ka‘iulani and Koa had been close back home, and wrote each other letters constantly. Koa told her he was homesick. But since he was 21 – almost 22 – the end of his education was in sight. Ka‘iulani’s was just beginning.

Prince David Kawānanakoa, 1868-1908

As for the English winter, she acclimated better than one might have expected. She wrote to Queen Kapiʻolani: “I rather like it when you can roast yourself by the fire but it is no joke out in the open air. I think I would like it moderately cold, not quite as cold as it is now.” (Webb, 79)

That March, she gave another update to Kapiʻolani. This time, she had positive news: she was third in her French class and was starting to like studying. Mrs. Sharpe, the schoolmistress, gave her a glowing report.

Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i posed with her arms in front of her, looking off into the distance. She is a young teenager, wearing her hair down.
Ka‘iulani by Henry Wayland, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

As the school year wound down, Ka‘iulani’s family had to decide what was next. The original plan was for her to spend one year in England. But since she was doing so well, Archie and the king decided to extend her stay another year. There was just one problem with that scenario. Her father couldn’t afford to pay for Annie to stay abroad. Ka‘iulani received a government allowance, but there was no financial assistance for Annie. So Archie called her home.

Her father couldn’t afford to pay for Annie to stay abroad. Ka‘iulani received a government allowance, but there was no financial assistance for Annie.

When the next school year started in October of 1890, Annie had to say goodbye. After the emotional farewell, the schoolmistress praised Ka‘iulani’s composure in a letter to Archie – she didn’t cry, Mrs. Sharpe reported, even though Annie went to pieces. Ka‘iulani had already begun to learn what was expected of a Victorian girl and a royal princess.

Public displays of emotion were not on that list.

The Crown Princess Diaries

In the fall of 1890, something strange happened. Ka‘iulani got a letter from her uncle, the king, where he warned her to watch out for enemies he couldn’t name in writing. But how was a 15-year-old girl supposed to know who he meant? Was he warning her against her guardian, Davies? Or was he talking about men in the government, members of the Hawaiian League?

King Kalākaua in a suit with a sash and royal orders pinned to his chest.
King Kalākaua by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

She wrote back, asking him to tell her who he was talking about.

But the answer never came.

Ka‘iulani spent that Christmas holiday with the Davies family in Southport. The family sent their governess to meet Ka‘iulani at the train station. The governess waited and waited, getting increasingly worried when no one showed up. Finally, Ka‘iulani appeared on the platform…with two boys in tow. She introduced them to the governess, and they all left together. If you know anything about behavior in Victorian England, you know that girls are not supposed to be alone with boys their own age. Luckily, the incident doesn’t seem to have had any lasting repercussions. This isn’t the last time we’ll see a bit of her mother’s flirtatiousness emerge.

Ka‘iulani at age 14. Her hair is up in a bun and she's wearing a high-necked blouse with a brooch at the collar.
Ka‘iulani photographed by I. W. Taber, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

While Ka‘iulani was on winter break, her uncle the king left Hawai‘i for a visit to the United States. He had been in poor health for awhile and hoped a visit to a cooler climate would help. But he died in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. Thanks to the transatlantic telegram, Ka‘iulani heard the news before anyone back home in Hawai‘i.

Her aunt, Lili‘u, was now Queen of Hawai‘i.

Queen Lili‘u okalani in a black formal gown seated on her throne. She wears jewels in her hair, a necklace, a brooch, and a royal order.
Queen Lili‘uokalani photographed by James J. Williams, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Ka‘iulani took her uncle’s death hard. She wrote home, telling Lili’u she was “the only one left of my dear Mother’s family.” (Zambucka, 32)

Her guardian, Davies, pulled Ka‘iulani out of school for a few days, giving her time to grieve in private. Instantly, the question arose: what now? Should she go home for the funeral? If so, would she ever come back to England? Her cousin Koa was also still in England, and wrote to her asking if she’d been called home.

She wrote back that she hadn’t heard from anyone yet.

But that was about to change.

On March 9, 1891, Queen Lili‘uokalani officially declared Ka‘iulani her heir. A few years later, when looking back on this moment, Ka‘iulani described how happy she was to a reporter: “…[I] made all sorts of vows and plans you can think of. I dreamed of all that I would do for my people. I was sure that I could make them the happiest people in the world.” (Rix, SF Call)

Screenshot of the article on Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i in the San Francisco Call.
The article with the quote about her goals for her people: Alice Rix on Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i in The San Francisco Call, August 7, 1898 via Newspapers.com.

Her dream was one step closer to coming true.

But from distant Northamptonshire, it must have felt like dreaming and planning was all she could do.

In what must have been frustrating news, she found out that Lili‘u had called Koa home – and not her. True, Koa and his brother had been named heirs after her. True, Koa was 23 years old and ready to take up a role in government, while she was just a teenager. But logic is cold comfort when the thing you want most seems to be slipping from your grasp. As the new queen got down to the business of ruling, Ka‘iulani waited and wondered…when could she go home?

Logic is cold comfort when the thing you want most seems to be slipping from your grasp.

Her letters took on a new tone, revealing stress and uncertainty. When she came back to school after grieving for her uncle, her classmates teased her about her new status as crown princess. Ka‘iulani had never liked being teased – it was the one thing she never learned to tolerate. Her governess had noticed it, and so had her guardian’s daughter, Alice Davies.

Ka‘iulani took her classmates’ teasing so hard that her guardian kept her home for a few days to give her time to recover and find some sense of equilibrium in her changing world.

Father Knows Best

As it turned out, Ka‘iulani was going to do a lot more waiting and wondering.

Her aunt did not call her home that spring, despite her new status as heir to the throne of Hawai‘i. So when the school year ended, Archie went to visit her in England instead. First, he took her to London, where they stayed in the Langham Hotel.

A beautiful Victorian gothic building on a corner of two streets.
The Langham Hotel by The Langham, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

And here’s an interesting tidbit about that hotel – a very fashionable one. Just a couple weeks earlier, the Langham had appeared in a new short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Strand Magazine called “A Scandal in Bohemia.” The story featured detective Sherlock Holmes and introduced the character of Irene Adler. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if either Archie or Ka‘iulani read it?

The story featured detective Sherlock Holmes and introduced the character of Irene Adler. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if either Archie or Ka‘iulani read it?

In any case, Archie had letters from the queen for the British Foreign Office; as a courtesy and mark of Ka‘iulani’s rank, they were invited to visit Windsor Castle and tour the royal gardens. Archie also had a commission from Lili’u: she wanted a diamond star. He selected a jeweler and sent home three sketches for her approval.

Next, Archie took Ka‘iulani to his homeland, Scotland. Together, they traveled to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and up into the Highlands. Ka‘iulani painted, went horseback riding, and immersed herself in the history and culture of her father’s country. She saw relics of the executed King Charles I, including his shirt, watch, and a lock of his hair.

Ka‘iulani's painting of a Scottish stream flowing under an arched stone bridge.
Ka‘iulani’s painting of Scotland, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

When they arrived back in London, Archie did something unusual, which Ka‘iulani reported to her aunt: “…he went into the slums of London with a detective, as he wished to see how the police did their work. He did not get home till after one o’clock…” (Zambucka, 36)

Maybe he DID read that Sherlock Holmes story…

But the summer wasn’t all fun and games. Ka‘iulani got glasses to correct severe nearsightedness. According to her dad, she couldn’t see anything more than a few feet away.

Ka‘iulani wearing small rimless glasses.
Ka‘iulani wearing her glasses by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Archie also filled Ka‘iulani in on the political situation back home. There was a new American minister to Hawai‘i named John Stevens, and he and the queen did not get along. Stevens was an anti-monarchist who made no bones about the fact that he hoped America would annex Hawai‘i.

But soon, Lili’u had bigger problems. On August 27, 1891 her husband, John Dominis, died at the age of 59. There’s no good time for a spouse to die, but in this case, it truly was a case of terrible timing. As a new queen, inheriting a government riddled with debt and corruption, she needed all the help she could get to set things right. Plus, she had the members of the Hawaiian League chomping at the metaphorical bit, always looking for ways to undermine her and press the case for annexation. He and Lili’u had a troubled relationship, but he was an important part of her life – and one of the few people who could provide honest feedback and advice.

John Owen Dominis wearing a military jacket and holding a saber and cap. He has brown hair that curls over his ears and a full, bushy beard and mustache.
John Dominis by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Now, she was adrift – alone.

Archie sailed home soon afterward, but no return summons arrived for Ka‘iulani. She dropped a hint in her next letter that she wanted to help her aunt in the future, but that she knew nothing of actual state affairs.

Lili‘u ignored the hint. Instead, she wrote to her niece, “You and Papa are all that is left to me…finish your studies with all due satisfaction to your teachers, and then come home and live a life of usefulness to your people.” (Noonan, 192)

Ka‘iulani in a black dress, posed in a photo studio leaning on an armrest. She looks bored.
Ka‘iulani by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

So Ka‘iulani did what she could to be useful – which included promoting her father’s interests. John Dominis’s death had opened up the position of Governor of O‘ahu. When Ka‘iulani heard it was going to go to her cousin Koa, she asked if it could go to Archie instead. She wrote, “My education and stay in England is costing him something, and Oh Auntie! I do not want him to get into debt. Please do not be offended with me…” (Zambucka, 36)

Her wish was granted, a good sign of the personal and professional relationship she was developing with her aunt, the queen.

When Ka‘iulani started the fall term in 1891, she knew it was her last at Great Harrowden Hall. Her schoolmistress had decided to close the school and retire at the end of the calendar year. At the time, a British newspaper described her as a favorite of her classmates. But, the paper said, she did do one thing that really ticked her teacher off – “she is much too fond of schoolgirl slang for a future Queen!” (The Gentlewoman, 1892)

I love that about her. But all around her, things were changing. Back home, her half-sister Annie had gotten married to the son of the British Consul-General.

Screenshot of a newspaper article with the text: "A Brilliant Wedding. Marriage of Mr. J.H. Wodehouse, Jr., to Miss Annie Cleghorn at St. Andrew's Cathedral."
Annie Cleghorn’s wedding as described in the Hawaiian Gazette on December 23, 1890 via Newspapers.com.

That November, their first baby was born, a son. It was hard to know that the people she loved were moving on, living their lives, and she was still in limbo half a world away.

Independent Study

When Great Harrowden Hall closed at the end of the year, Theo Davies arranged for Ka‘iulani and his own daughter Alice to stay with a woman named Phebe Rooke. She lived just outside of Brighton, in Sussex. There, in Mrs. Rooke’s house, the girls would be tutored in French, German, music, singing, history, English composition, and English literature.

Ka‘iulani wearing a white dress with black trim and a broad-brimmed sunhat.
Ka‘iulani by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The move was good for Ka‘iulani. Brighton was a popular seaside resort, best known for King George IV’s Royal Pavilion, built in the early 19th century. Royals, aristocrats, and the wealthy flocked there for a little oceanfront R&R.

A palace designed with Indian influence, with thin towers, arcades on the lower level, and onion dome towers.
The Royal Pavilion by Qmin, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ka‘iulani wrote home that the sea air improved her appetite. She took up stamp collecting and started reading about Hawai‘i’s history, surprised when she learned things no one in her own family had told her.

Her family’s inherent musical talent also came out as she took singing lessons. Her teacher “says that I have a very sweet soprano voice. I think that I must have inherited it from you,” she wrote to her aunt. (Zambucka, 39)

By this point, she’d been away from home for over two years. The good news that was a trip back was finally on the horizon.

Ka‘iulani with her hair in a bun, wearing a bodice with leg-of-mutton puffed sleeves and a high neckline.
Ka‘iulani by an unknown artist/photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Archie and the queen were making plans for her societal debut the following year, during the winter of 1892 to 1893, during which she would be presented to Queen Victoria. Then, she’d be able to go home in time for her eighteenth birthday.

Although these plans were almost a year away, they gave her something to look forward to. She wrote, “I have enjoyed my studies very much…I can speak German fluently though I make a great many mistakes. I am looking forward to my return next year. I am beginning to feel very homesick.” (Stassen-McLaughlin, 27) And then, as if to remind everyone just how long she’d been gone: “I suppose that you will not know me again as I have changed so much.” (Zambucka, 39)

“I suppose that you will not know me again as I have changed so much.”

Ka‘iulani to her aunt

Her aunt encouraged her to keep studying, especially writing and literature. Here’s what she said: “To be able to write a history – to compose a poem – to write anything which will prove a fertile and cultivated mind is an accomplishment which one in your station ought…to be master of.” (Stassen-McLaughlin, 28)

Lili’u in a black dress, standing beside a chair.
Lili’u by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Can I just say how much I love this advice? And not just because it justifies, well, my entire life. Lili’u was a big believer in education for its own sake, but also as a way to learn how to express yourself. Through music, poetry, and writing, Lili’u expressed both personal feelings and political statements. She understood that creativity and utility were two sides of the same coin. You needed to have both, especially as an ali‘i.

Back home, Ka‘iulani ‘s father was dealing with bigger problems. He was freaking out about money. He had asked the legislature for money to pay for Ka‘iulani’s return trip, but they refused. He told Ka‘iulani he’d try to get the money somehow, which couldn’t have been very comforting.

Archie’s second money problem was something you might be more familiar with: how much it costs to build a house. He had announced a plan to build a new house at ʻĀinahau, something more befitting a crown princess. Ka‘iulani approved and wrote back, “It has always been my ambition to have a house at Waikiki worthy of the beautiful garden.” (Noonan, 235)

A large house stands behind a smaller bungalow, both of which are behind a huge banyan tree.
The old bungalow and the new, bigger house at ʻĀinahau photographed by Walter B. Townsend, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

But paying for it was another matter.

In the meantime, Ka‘iulani and Phebe Rooke spent spring break on Jersey, one of Britain’s Channel Islands.

Map showing the island of Jersey off the coast of France.
Map by Варја at Serbian Wikipedia, public domain via Wikimedia Commons; names added by yours truly.

Although they belong to Great Britain, the Channel Islands are closer to France and French was the primary language spoken on the island. Thanks to her studies, Ka‘iulani could speak and understand it. Between the mild climate and the island’s sharp, rocky coastline, Jersey reminded her of home and she fell in love with it right away.

A rocky coastline against a turquoise sea.
Jersey image by tiloligo, purchased via DepositPhotos.com.

After finishing that school year, she spent summer break with the Davies family. She wrote home: “I am having such very pretty summer dresses made. I do like pretty, dainty things. All the ladies are wearing dresses made like men’s clothes. I do dislike them so, they look so very manly…” (Webb, 95)

It’s a relief to hear her sound relaxed, thinking about normal teenage girl things. It’s also fun to see her personality start to emerge from her letters. She clearly has IDEAS about fashion, something we’ll see her develop in the next few years.

The Hope of Hawaii

That fall, she was back in Brighton for her last year of education, being tutored in history, literature, French, German, physics, singing, dancing, riding, and deportment. The dancing, riding, and deportment were necessary prep work for her coming-out, including her presentation to Queen Victoria.

The plan so far was for Archie to go to England that coming April of 1893, pick her up, and take her to the Continent, where he would officially present her to a short list of European rulers.

Archibald Scott Cleghorn wearing a dark suit and tie. His hair and full beard are white.
Archie by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Then they’d go back to England for her presentation to Queen Victoria. Finally, they’d return to the United States, meet the president, and possibly stop in at the Chicago World’s Fair, all in time for her to be home in Hawai‘i by her birthday in October.

But that was all to be one year in the future.

That October of 1892, Ka‘iulani turned 17. Mrs. Rooke gave her a print of her favorite painting, “The Soul’s Awakening” by James Sant.

Painting of a young girl with flowing hair clutching a Bible and looking heavenward.
“The Soul’s Awakening” image via Pinterest.

Her birthday didn’t go unnoticed in Hawai‘i. The newspapers friendly to the monarchy published glowing articles about her, still referring to her as the “Hope of Hawai‘i.” But even on a seemingly harmless occasion like a teenage girl’s 17th birthday, an anti-monarchist newspaper called the Liberal commemorated Ka‘iulani with an insult: if “the ‘Hope of Hawai‘i’ rests in the hands of a half-white girl and lick-spittle hirelings…we may expect to see the country sink into the sea.” (Askman, 183)

That’s how harshly the royal family was portrayed by the other side.

That Christmas, in addition to a stint with the Davies family, she also visited family friends, Lord and Lady Wiseman, at The Priory in Writtle, Chelmsford. As she explained to her aunt, she wanted to do more than just study manners and deportment; she wanted to see them in action – and practice them herself – with “refined people” like the Wisemans. (Noonan, 196)

That December, there was good news and bad news coming from home.

First, the bad news: she would never meet her half-sister’s baby son. She found out in a letter from a friend that Annie’s baby had died that November.

Screenshot of the newspaper announcement with test that reads: "Died. Wodehouse - at the British Legation, on the 11th inst., James Hay, infant son of James Hay Wodehouse, Jr. and Mrs. Wodehouse, aged one year."
The announcement as posted in the Evening Bulletin on November 11, 1892 via Newspapers.com.

But there was also the good news: before the Hawaiian Legislative session closed for the holidays, they’d approved $4,000 to pay for her trip home in 1893. Finally, everything she’d been raised for – everything she’d been learning – was about to pay off.

It must have seemed like her dreams were finally coming true.

Kaiulani in a posed portrait facing the camera. Her hair is in a bun and she wears a cloak with beaded trim.
Ka‘iulani photographed by Elmer Chickering, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

But that trip would never happen and she would never be presented to Queen Victoria.

Ka‘iulani’s future was on a collision course with American imperialism. And the choices she made when it happened turned her into an international celebrity.

And that’s where we’re going to leave Ka‘iulani until part 3 – poised for a future she can’t wait to grasp…but one that is slipping out of reach seven thousand miles away from her.

The End…of Part 2


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Sources for Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i: Part 2

Books & Articles

In alphabetical order by author’s last name

Allen, Helena G. The Betrayal of Liliuokalani, Last Queen of Hawaii, 1838-1917. Honolulu: Mutual
Publishing, 1982. (Amazon affiliate link)

Askman, Douglas V. “Her Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition: An Examination of the English-Language Version of Robert Wilcox’s the Liberal, 1892-1893.” The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol 42 (2008). (Read for free via the University of Hawai‘i)

Bott, Robin L. “I know what is due to me”: self-fashioning and legitimization in Queen Liliuokalani’s Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. In Homans, Margaret and Adrienne Munich, eds. Remaking Queen Victoria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. (Amazon affiliate link)

Clark, John R. K. Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011. (Amazon affiliate link)

Cleghorn, Thomas Alexander Kaulaahi. The Watumull Foundation Oral History Project. Katherine B. Allen, interviewer. Honolulu: The Watumull Foundation, 1979. (Read for free via the University of Hawai‘i)

Forbes, David W., ed. The Diaries of Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, 1885-1900. Honolulu: Hui Hanai, 2019. (Amazon affiliate link)

Kuykendall, Ralph Simpson. The Hawaiian Kingdom 1874–1893, The Kalakaua Dynasty. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1967. (read for free via ULUKAU: THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRONIC LIBRARY)

Liliuokalani. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1898. (Amazon affiliate link)

Linnéa, Sharon. Princess Ka’iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999. (Amazon affiliate link)

Lowe, Ruby Hasegawa, and Robin Yoko Racoma. David Kalākaua. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1999. (read for free via ULUKAU: THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRONIC LIBRARY)

Meade, L.T. “Girls’ Schools of To-day II, St. Leonard’s and Great Harrowden Hall.” The Strand Magazine, Vol. 9, January to June 1895. Ed. George Newnes. London: George Newnes, 1895. (Read for free online)

Mrantz, Maxine. Hawaii’s Tragic Princess: Kaiulani, The Girl Who Never Got to Rule. Honolulu: Aloha Publishing, 1980. (read for free via Archive.org)

Noonan, Peter W. Kaiulani of Hawaii And the Fall of Her Kingdom. Ottawa, Canada: Magistralis, 2021. (Amazon affiliate link)

Osorio, Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole. Dismembering Lãhui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002. (Amazon affiliate link)

Requilmán, Arnold Hōkūlani. “A Hundred Years after the Pikake Princess.” Edited by D. Mahealani Dudoit. ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal 2 (2002): 198–218. (read for free online)

Siler, Julia Flynn. Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Venture. New York: Grove Press, 2013. (Amazon affiliate link)

Stassen-McLaughlin, Marilyn. “Unlucky Star – Princess Ka’iulani.” Hawaiian Journal of History 33 (1999): 21–54. (read for free online)

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Edited by A. Grove Day. Travels in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991. (Amazon affiliate link)

Tate, Merze. The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom : A Political History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965. (read for free via Archive.org)

Teves, Stephanie Nohelani. “The Afterlife of Princess Kaʿiulani.” In Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance, 113–44. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018.

Thurston, Lorrin A. Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution. Edited by Andrew Farrell. Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing Co., Ltd., 1936. (read for free via Hathi Trust)

Van Dyke, Jon M. Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai’i? Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008. (Amazon affiliate link)

Warinner, Emily V. A Royal Journey to London. Honolulu: Topgallant Publishing Co., LTD., 1975.

Webb, Nancy, and Webb, Jean Francis. Kaiulani: Crown Princess of Hawaii. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1998. (Amazon affiliate link)

Zambucka, Kristin. Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i: The Monarchy’s Last Hope. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1988. (read for free via Archive.org)

Online Sources

Cleghorn, Archibald Scott. Diaries for 1866, 1868-1869, 1877, 1879-1882, 1874. Hawai’i State Archives Manuscript Collection.

Fahrni, Jennifer. “Princess Kaiulani: Her Life and Times.” The Kaiulani Project (blog). The blog is no longer live, but you can view it through Google’s cached version.

Gavelek, Fern. “A Beloved Daughter Retires.” Ke Ola Magazine (January-February 2012, pp 17-19)

Sigall, Bob. “Hawaii’s Royal Legacies.” Honolulu Magazine (April 14, 2013)

Sigall, Bob. “Rearview Mirror: Queen Lili’uokalani’s book recalls visit by Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh.” Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Oct 25, 2019)

Newspapers

Daily Honolulu Press

The Gentlewoman

The Hawaiian Gazette

The Hawaiian Star

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (later the Honolulu Advertiser)

Honolulu Star Bulletin

San Francisco Call (specifically – Rix, Alice, “The Princess Who Wanted to Be Queen,” August 7, 1898)

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Credits

  • Header Image: Ka‘iulani: public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Kauai: Photo by Lux Productions on Unsplash.
  • Music, post audio: All via Artlist.io.

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