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Victoria Ka iulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn, Crown Princess of Hawaii ( 16 October 1875 – 6 March 1899) was heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawai i and held the title of crown princess. Ka iulani became known throughout the world for her intelligence, beauty and determination. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, she spearheaded a campaign to restore the Kingdom. In New York, she made many speeches and public appearances denouncing the overthrow of her government. In Washington, D.Cmarker she spoke before the United States Congress and pleaded with U.S. President Benjamin Harrison and later Grover Cleveland, but her negotiations could not prevent eventual annexation.Her life story grew to legendary proportions after her untimely death.

Early years

Victoria Ka iulani was born in Honolulumarker. It is through her mother that Ka iulani is descended from High Chief Kepo okalani, the first cousin of Kamehameha the Great on Kamehameha's mother, Keku iapoiwa II's side. Her mother was also sister of Queen Liliuokalani. Ka iulani's father was a Scottishmarker financier from Edinburghmarker and last Royal Governor of O ahu Archibald Cleghorn. Ka iulani was named after her aunt Anna Kaiulani who died at a young age and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdommarker, whose help restored the sovereignty and independence of the Kingdom of Hawai i during the reign of Kamehameha III. The name Ka iulani translates from the Hawaiian language as the The Royal Sacred One. Upon her birth, Ka iulani was gifted the estate of Ainahau in Waikikimarker by her godmother Ruth Keelikolani. Ka iulani became mistress of Ainahau at the age of 11 upon the tragic death of her mother.

In 1881, King Kalākaua tried to arrange a marriage between Ka iulani and Japan's Prince Higashifushimi Yorihito in hopes of creating an alliance between Japanmarker and the Kingdom of Hawai i. However, the prince declined, as he was already pre-arranged to marry a Japanese noble lady. In 1894, Queen Liliuokalani wrote to her niece to marry one of the three: Prince David Kawananakoa, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, or Prince Komatsu Akihito (then studying in London), the half-brother of Higashifushimi Yorihito. She replied to her aunt that she would prefer to marry for love unless it was necessary to protect the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom.


The Princess grew up knowing painters Joseph Dwight Strong, a landscape painter in the court of her uncle, and Isobel Strong, a lady in waiting under her mother and stepdaughter of Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevensen called her "the island rose" in a poem he wrote in her autograph book.Art and music were also in the curriculum at Great Harrowdenmarker Hall and she took several trips to Scotland and France to study art. Her few surviving paintings demonstrate considerable talent.

Because Princess Ka iulani was second in line to the throne after her elderly and childless aunt, it was predicted that the young girl would eventually become Queen. King Kalākaua, Queen Kapi olani, Cleghorn, and the Princess talked about the issue and it was determined that it would be in the young Princess's best interests that she be given a Britishmarker education. In 1889, at the age of 13, Ka iulani was sent to Northamptonshiremarker, Englandmarker to be given a private education at Great Harrowdenmarker Hall. She excelled in her studies of Latin, Literature, Mathematics, and History there. She also took classes in French, German, and sports (mostly tennis and cricket). She continued to study in England for the next four years, despite the fact that she had originally been told that she would only be studying in Britain for one year. Her overseers from Hawai i had planned for her to take a trip around Europe and had even arranged for her to have an audience with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, but following the overthrow of her Aunt, Queen Lili uokalani, on 17 January 1893 by local businessmen, all plans were cancelled and she went to New York.

The overthrow

During her absence, much turmoil occurred back in Hawai i. King Kalakaua died in 1891 and Princess Lydia Lili uokalani became Queen. Lili uokalani immediately appointed Ka iulani as her heir, and Ka iulani became the Crown Princess. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and the new government attempted to become a part of the United Statesmarker. The news arrived to Ka iulani on 30 January 1893 in a short telegram that said: "'Queen Deposed', 'Monarchy Abrogated', 'Break News to Princess'".

Ka iulani then made a statement to the press in England:

"Four years ago, at the request of Mr. Thurston, then a Hawaiian Cabinet Minister, I was sent away to England to be educated privately and fitted to the position which by the constitution of Hawaii I was to inherit.
For all these years, I have patiently and in exile striven to fit myself for my return this year to my native country.
I am now told that Mr. Thurston will be in Washington asking you to take away my flag and my throne.
No one tells me even this officially.
Have I done anything wrong that this wrong should be done to me and my people?
I am coming to Washington to plead for my throne, my nation and my flag.
Will not the great American people hear me?"

She referred to Lorrin A. Thurston, who was touring the United Statesmarker promoting its annexation of Hawaii.Ka iulani decided to take action and traveled to the United States herself the following month. Upon arrival on American shores, although shy by nature, she addressed the press in public with these resounding words:

"Seventy years ago Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawai i.
Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work.
Who sent them?
Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold?
Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people.
Even now I can hear their 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 million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!"
She was portrayed as a "heathen Princess", the clownish "Princess Koylani" of pro-Annexation skits and cartoons. Although anti-Monarchy propaganda-merchants tried to paint her as "Barbaric" or "savage", her popularity proved quite a surprise as she traveled across the United States following her education. Instead of the caricature cannibal expected, the paparazzi of the day were confronted by an exquisite Royal Princess wearing the latest Paris gowns and speaking cultured English (or Hawaiian, French or German if the occasion demanded). She traveled through New York Citymarker and Bostonmarker where she attended numerous press conferences and banquets. She then went to Washington DCmarker where she met with President Grover Cleveland and his wife at the White Housemarker. She made a good impression and Cleveland promised to help her cause. Ka iulani felt satisfied that something would be done and returned to England. However, when Cleveland brought forth Ka iulani's case to Congress, the United States Senate did not proceede with annexation, but refused to restore the monarchy. The situation in Hawai i did not improve, and Ka iulani grew impatient. Over the next few years, Ka iulani remained in Europe. There, she received news in 1894 that her childhood friend and famed author, Robert Louis Stevenson, had died and that a new Republic of Hawai imarker had been established. Her health slowly deteriorated. Ka iulani's health worsened when she learned that her half-sister, Annie Cleghorn, had died in 1897 and her guardian from England, Theophilus Harris Davies, had also died.

Later years

Ka iulani returned to Hawai i in 1897. The return to a warmer climate did not help her health at all, as she had spent more than seven years in Europe. Her health continued to deteriorate as she struggled to readjust to the tropical climate of the Hawaiian islands. However, she continued to make public appearances at the urging of her father.

With the approval of Queen Lili'uokalani and Queen Dowager Kapi'olani and in compliance with the last Hawaiian constitution, Princess Ka iulani and Prince Kawananakoa announced their engagement on 3 February 1898.

She was now a private citizen of the Republic of Hawaiimarker, and on 12 August 1898 became citizen of the Territory of Hawaii as the annexation finally took place. During the Annexation ceremony, the Princess and her aunt, Liliuokalani, along with other members of the royal family and with the heads of every Hawaiian political party, wore funeral attire and shuttered themselves within Washington Placemarker, protesting what they considered an illegal transaction. "When the news of Annexation came it was bitterer than death to me," Princess Ka iulani, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was bad enough to lose the throne, but infinitely worse to have the flag go down..."

Ka iulani was famous for her love of peacocks, and she kept the animals on her estate. For this reason, another name for her is the "Peacock Princess". It was said that when she died, her peacocks screamed so loud that they had to be shot to silence them.

Later in 1898, while on a horse ride in the mountains of Hawai i Islandmarker, she got caught in a storm and came down with a fever. Ka iulani was brought back to O ahumarker where her health continued to decline. She died on 6 March 1899 at the age of 23. Some Hawaiians believe that Ka iulani died of a broken heart, having suffered many losses in her life. Her father also said that he thought that since Hawai i was gone, it was fitting for Ka iulani to go as well. Her interment was in Honolulu's Royal Mausoleum of Hawaiimarker.

After death

The Ka iulani statue in Waikiki
After her death, her aunt, the deposed Queen Lili uokalani, recognized another relative, David Kawananakoa as the heir of Hawaiian Royal House, and adopted him.

In 1999, a bronze statue cast by Jan Gordon Fisher was dedicated in the triangle park at Kanekapolei and Kuhio Avenues in Waikikimarker, Honolulumarker. In 2001 Ellen Emerson White published a book of the Royal Diaries Series on her early life titled Kaiulani, the People's Princess, Hawai'i, 1889.


In the fall of 2007, English filmmaker Marc Forby began production on a $9 million film titled Barbarian Princess based on the princess' attempts to restore her nation's independence. Princess Ka iulani is played by 12-year-old Kaimana Pa aluhi of O ahu and by Q'Orianka Kilcher. Barry Pepper, Will Patton, and Shaun Evans co-star. In March 2008 scenes were filmed on location at the Iolani Palacemarker. The film's world premiere was held at the Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday, October 16, 2009, as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival. The film's title provoked controversy, and the film opened with mixed reviews.. However, demand to see the film was high and the film festival scheduled several additional screenings.

The Ka iulani Project

The Ka iulani Project is a celebration of the life, spirit and legacy of Princess Ka'iulani. Their goal is to reveal Ka iulani as the heroine she was, a Princess who fought for her nation in it’s hour of need, and to serve as a meeting place and reference for other works about the Princess.In her nation's darkest hour this "daughter of a double race" embraced both her Hawaiian and Scottish ancestries, spoke for her nation and forever changed the world's view of the Hawaiian people. Spearheading the project is Ka'iulani: The Island Rose, a screenplay and stage play written and researched since 2003 by Jennifer Fahrni and Carol Harvie-Yamaguchi. It was first performed as a public reading in April 2008. It will be premiered on the island of Mauimarker.




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