During the month of October, we celebrate the birth of our Princess Kaʻiulani. On the 16th of October 1875, Princess Victoria Kai’ulani Kawēkiu i Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn was born to Princess Miriam Likelike & Archibald Cleghorn. Likelike was sister of both King Kalākaua and Queen Lili’uokalani and earned the title of Princess when her brother was crowned. After succeeding her brother, Queen Liliʻuokalani later named Princess Ka’iulani heir to the throne of the kingdom of Hawaiʻi.
Princess Kaʻiulani was the pride of the reigning aliʻi of Hawaiʻi and our lāhuiʻs greatest hope for the future. Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani gave her the country estate of ʻĀinahau currently located in the heart of Waikīkī where the Princess Kaʻiulani hotel is currently located. Many dignitaries visited the Cleghorns at this estate including well-known author Robert Louis Stevenson.
Princess Kaʻiulani was sent to study abroad in London and Scotland, and was still abroad when Queen Liliʻuokalani was stripped of her throne in 1893. Overwhelmed with sadness for her kingdom, she appealed to the American Government to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to her throne. In 1893 as she returned to Hawaiʻi from England,with her guardians Mr. and Mrs. Theodophilus Davies, she stopped over in New York and Boston. While on American soil, many reporters asked for a statement about the turmoil in the Hawaiian Kingdom. Part of her statement is as follows:
“...To-day, I, a poor, weak girl, with not one of my people near me, and all these Hawaiian statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear them wail in my heart, and it gives me strength and courage, and I am strong; strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy millions of people who, in this free land, will hear my cry, and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine...”
Princess Kaʻiulani joined her Aunt, the Queen Liliʻuokalani in mourning the loss of independence of their nation during the annexation ceremony in 1898. The lāhui continued to hope for the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom and that the Princess would help lead her people into the modern twentieth century. In early 1899, the Princess became sick while visiting Hawaiʻi island and returned to Oʻahu. On March 6, 1899 she died at home in her beloved, ʻĀinahau.
We remember Princess Kaʻiulani for her steadfast Aloha ʻĀina spirit and grace in which she led the lāhui.
Written by: Lāiana and Cami Kanoa-Wong