The Tragic Life and Global Legacy of the Last Hawaiian Princess – Honolulu, Hawaii

Fate and Princess Ka’iulani, the heir to the Hawaiian crown, entered the White House in Washington, DC with a delicate diplomatic mission. She had just set sail from England on a surfboard in the waves of Brighton Beach on the south coast of England. It was 1893, an important year for the Hawaiians.

Her meeting with the 24th President of the United States was concise and heartfelt, but her goal was to move her goals forward. It was to save the Kingdom of Hawaii and her future throne. A few weeks ago, before leaving Britain to seek the support of the President of the United States, the princess made an eloquent and emotional plea. “Four years ago, at the request of Mr. Thurston, then Minister of the Cabinet of Hawaii, I was sent to England. I was personally educated and fit into the position I was supposed to inherit under the Hawaiian Constitution. During all these years, I have been patient and in exile, striving to suit myself for my return to my homeland this year. Mr. Thurston is in Washington and robs me of my flag and throne. Now I’m being told that no one officially tells me that I’ve done anything wrong or this wrong thing to me and my people Should it be done? I’m coming to Washington to plead for my throne, my country, and my flag. Will the great Americans listen to me? “

US President Grover Cleveland has moved. He brought her proceedings to Congress, demanding respect for the legitimate Hawaiian monarchy, and led by a delegation of powerful American businessmen seeking to annex the Hawaiian Islands on January 17, 1893. He promised to refuse to accept the coup. Congressional decisions will determine her destiny and the future of Hawaii.

Ka’iulani, brilliant and beautiful, betrayed by American financial firms, was extraordinary. Educated classically at the Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire, England, she spoke several languages, wrote poetry in English, Latin and Hawaiian, and was a god of art and music composition.

But first and foremost, the princess was a surfer. Known for riding long wooden boards, it is particularly heavy and demanding, and has a reputation for outstanding performance on big surf. Hawaiian women, especially those of royal blood, were known for their ability and power to ride the waves. The Hawaiian monarchy was passionate about surfing until the late 1800s, when surfing was almost extinct as a sport. The religious doctrine of evangelical missionaries has become an outstanding cultural power in the country. And in most cases, they succeeded in removing surfing from the daily lives of Hawaiians. However, the second Princess Ka’iulani, who inherited the Hawaiian crown, was a notable exception. Ignoring missionaries’ efforts to eradicate all surfing activities, she continued surfing daily, completely ignoring the Western restrictions imposed on Hawaiian culture. “She was a seasoned surf rider,” recalled the early 20th century surf rider Knute Cottonrell, one of the founders of the Hoinal Surf Club in Waikiki in 1908. The last of Waikiki’s traditional native surfers. “

A 1855 watercolor painting by James Gay Sorkins depicts a woman surfing on Maui. Surfing has been a centuries-old tradition in many Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. Australian Public Domain / National Library, PBA Gallery

There is a strong claim that this brave and bold woman saved surfing from extinction. If Hawaiian swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfing to the world in the early 20th century, Princess Ka’iulani may be the savior who made it possible.

Born October 16, 1875 to Princess Victoria Lunalilo Karaninuia Hiraparapa Kreghorn, the princess is named after Queen Victoria and her maternal aunt Anna Ka’iulani. Princess Ka’iulani’s life and heritage is a testament to her love when the Hawaiians are in need. Ka’iu lani In Hawaiian, it means “the highest point of heaven” or “the sacred place of the royal family.”

Ka’iulani’s mother was a descendant of her first cousin, Kamehameha the Great, the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, known as Rikerike, and the sister of the last two monarchs. Her father was the prominent Scottish businessman Archibald Scott Craighorn. Princess Ka’iulani was the successor to the throne after her aunt, who had no older children, so the girl was expected to eventually become the queen.

When Ka’iulani was only 11 years old, Likelike became ill and never recovered. Legend has it that a large school of bright red fish (a precursor to the death of a family) gathered near the shore, and Likelike predicted that his daughter would never get married or become a queen.

The monarchs King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani talked with Kreghorn and the princess about preparing for the role of a British-educated royal family. Ka’iulani, sent to Northamptonshire, England in 1889 at the age of 13, received an excellent private education in studying Latin, literature, mathematics and history. She learned French and German and took tennis and cricket lessons. Growing up in the court of her uncle, knowing the landscape painter Joseph Dwight Strong and the woman writer Isobel Strong waiting for her mother, she showed her early artistic talents and what to Scotland and France. I traveled and studied several times. Strong was the stepdaughter of Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure island fame. Ka’iulani and Stephenson have become good friends. He called her an “island rose” in a poem he wrote in her signature book.

17-year-old Ka’iulani as a British student, photographer unknown. Public domain / Wikimedia

Moving to Brighton in 1892 felt like a new start for Princess Ka’iulani, who had been studying in England for the next four years. Surfing is her great pleasure and there is evidence that she frequently surfed Brighton’s beaches on the south coast of England. She was instructed by Mrs. Luke, who set up a rigorous curriculum. The seaside resort delighted the princess with its consistent surfing. As Mrs. Luke reported, the princess “loved being on the water again, and the sea air gave her new energy.”

After arranging to meet the audience with Queen Victoria as part of her trip to Europe, her Hawaiian director had to suddenly cancel all plans in late January 1893. A short telegram released a shocking message. The monarchy was blamed. Let the princess know the news. “

Ka’iulani refused to remain lazy while his beloved country was stolen from the public, issued a fervent statement to the British press and headed for the American capital.

It was a bitter experience. Treating Ka’iulani with contempt, the pre-annexation press called her “mixed race” and her “dim.” A typical “positive” description of Ka’iulani’s appearance at the time emphasized what was often considered “white” about her.

The princess of the photo taken by IW Taber in 1897 and later retouched by JJ Williams.
The princess of the photo taken by IW Taber in 1897 and later retouched by JJ Williams. Public Domain / Library of Congress

Her world collapsed further when her dear friend Stevenson, who returned to Europe to finish her education, died. Then came the news that in her absence, contrary to her will, a new Republic of Hawaii was established. Despite her counsel to the president, who brought plight to Congress, her efforts failed to prevent the annexation of her hometown.

On the day Hawaii was annexed as U.S. territory (August 12, 1898), citizen Ka’iulani and his aunt, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, held a funeral to protest what they considered a criminal coup. I got dressed. “It was bad enough to lose the throne,” Ka’iulani said.

Shortly thereafter, both her half-sister Annie Craighorn and her British guardian Theophilus Harris Davis died. Great sadness overwhelmed her. Sadly, her health began to decline. The futileness of her efforts, prompted by her father to stay in public, made Ka’iulani more withdrawn and emotionally tired.

Ka’iulani, who rode in the mountains of Hawaii in late 1898, was caught in a storm, producing fever and causing fatal pneumonia. Princess Victoria, Ka’iulani, Lunalilo, Karaninuia, Hiraparapa, and Craighorn died on March 6, 1899, at the age of 23.

Her mother’s Rike Rique’s ominous prophecy has come true. Ka’iulani could not get married and never became a queen. She was the last line of tragic Hawaiian royalty whose sovereign states were robbed during the colonial era. It was ironic that it was exacerbated by the fact that it was only a century before the United States abandoned foreign ties and demanded autonomy.

One silver lining of her heritage remains: Princess Ka’iulani, who fought bravely but in vain to save her country, saved a valuable part of Hawaii. She continued to ride the waves — and in doing so saved surfing for all future generations.

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