Friday, October 16, 2009

Princess Ka'iulani of Hawaii

Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii

The Barbarian Princess Controversy?

On the anniversary of her birthday, 16 October 2009 will be the world premiere of a new movie about Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii. She was born Victoria Ka’iulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn on 16 October 1875, and was Queen Liliuokalani’s heir to the throne. Her father was Scots, and her mother was sister to the Hawaiian King. At this point in history, Hawaii was the center of all trade and shipping in the Pacific, and held a strategic position in world history. Japan, England, the United States and others were poised to influence its politics. In 1881, when Ka’iulani was just a child, King Kalakaua (her mother’s brother) tried to arrange a marriage with Japanese Crown Prince Yorihito, and in 1894 Queen Liliuokalani (her mother’s sister) gave the princess three Hawaiian princes to chose amongst, but the princess told her that she would prefer to marry for love.

Since the reigning Queen Liliuokalani was elderly and childless, it was hoped that Ka’iulani would become the next monarch. The monarchy was eventually overthrown in 1893 and the new government attempted to join the United States. The young Princess, who was being educated in an English boarding school, traveled to America and gave the press this statement:

"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!"

In reply, the pro Annexation propagandists called her “The Barbarian Princess” and a heathen. However, as Ka’iulani continued to travel across the United States, Americans came to know her as a beauty with impeccable British manners, speaking perfect English, French or German. She was invited to numerous balls and banquets, and even met with President Grover Cleveland at the White House. In the end, although Cleveland attempted to intervene on her behalf, Congress refused to restore the monarchy. In 1898 her homeland became the American Territory of Hawaii. By the end of that year she caught sick after a horse ride in the rain, and died on 6 March 1899. Most Hawaiians believe she died of a broken heart.

Marc Forby and Matador Pictures produced a $9 million film titled “Barbarian Princess” based on the life of Princess Ka’iulani. The star role will be played by Q’orianka Kilcher, who played Pocahontas in the Oscar nominated 2005 film “The New World.” It is the story of a young person of mixed races, caught up in the politics of her time, and so the title of the movie was pulled from the newspaper headlines of the times. As a result, the Hawaiian people have overwhelmingly protested the title of the movie, but are also embracing the idea of their princess heroine as the subject of a major motion picture. As of today, on, the trailer for the movie is titled “Princess Kaiulani” and the final title of the movie seems to be up in the air.

The Hawaiian Royal Family:

Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapa’akea, patriarch of the Kalakaua Dynasty, born 1815 in Molokai, Hawaii, died 13 November 1866; married in 1835 to High “Chieftess Analea Keohokalole (as her second husband), born 1816, died 6 April 1869. He was the son of Ali’I Kamanawa Opio II and Kamokuiki, she was of a higher rank than he, but they were cousins and their marriage was sacred because of their close kinship. She was the daughter of Chiefess Kamaeokalani and the High Chief Aikanaka, and her first husband was John Adams Kiiapalaoku Kuakini, an important advisor to King Kamehameha I in the early days of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

They had over 10 children, including :

1. Moses Kapaakea, born about 1834 and died young

2. James Kaliokalani, born 29 May 1835, died 2 April 1852 at age 16.

3. David Kalakaua, born 16 November 1836, died 20 January 1891, the last reigning King of Hawaii (“The Merry Monarch”); married to Kapi’olani. No children.

4. Lydia Kamaka’eha Kaola Mali’i Lili’uokalani, born 2 September 1838, died 11 November 1917; married 16 September 1862 to John Owen Dominis, later Royal Governor of O’ahu and Maui. He was the son of Captain John Dominis and Mary Lambert Jones of Boston (see my blog posting on 27 July 2009 for more on this Boston Connection to the Royal Hawaiian Family.) She was Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Princess Ka’iulani was her heir to the throne.

5. Kaiminaauao, born 1844, and died 10 November 1848 at age four of the measles.

6. Anna Kaiulani, born 1842 and died young.

7. Likelike aka Miriam Kapili Kekauluohi Likelike, born 13 January 1851, died 2 February 1887; married 22 September 1870 to Archibald S. Cleghorn, financier and later a Royal Governor of O’ahu. They had only one child, the Princess Ka’iulani.

8. William Pitt Leleiohoku Kalahoolewa, born 1854 and died 1877. He was Crown Prince under his brother King David Kalakaua.



“Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen” by Lili’uokalani, Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1898 (Princess Ka’iulani was half Scots and half Hawaiian) The Royal Family of Hawaii Official Web Site for information on the film “Barbarian Princess” released 16 October 2009


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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