About Queen Liliuokalani
Queen Lydia Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii and was Hawaii’s only Queen Regent. She was named heir to the throne when her brother, King Kalakaua, was elected in 1874. In 1881 while the king was on a diplomatic tour of the world, Liliuokalani served as queen while he was away.
In 1887 Liliuokalani took a diplomatic tour of Europe herself, and even attended the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in England. Her tour was cut short when she heard news of the King being forced to sign a constitution limiting the power of the monarchy, and stripping the voting rights from much of Hawaiis population.
Believing in peaceful resistance, she was hesitant to give up the crown during the overthrow of her monarchy in 1893. She did not want the loss of life of her people, and instead yielded her authority while hoping to appeal her cause.
Today her legacy lives on through the Queen Lilioukalani Childrens Trust. Created in her will, her wishes to help Hawaiis orphan and destitute children have been carried out by her estate for over 100 years.
Born in 1838 as the third of 15 children, Liliuokalanis parents were high-ranking Hawaiian nobility. She was raised in the Hawaiian tradition of Hanai, adoption by close family during infancy, by the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I. Liliuokalani attended the Royal School growing up where she developed a passion for academics and music.
At age 24 she married local businessman John Dominis but found the marriage unfulfilling and they had no children of their own. Liliuokalani raised three Hanai children, but none of them were eligible to become heirs to the throne.
Liliuokalani ascended to power in 1891 after the passing of King Kalakaua. After nearly 20 years as Hawaiis Crown Princess, Queen Liliuokalani was experienced and well suited to be the reigning monarch. One of the focuses of her reign was to institute a new constitution to return power to the monarchy and the voting rights to the people of Hawaii. This proposed constitution scared American and European businessmen who had financial interests in the islands who went on to perform a coup detat with the aid of U.S. Marines. The military backing of the coup was not authorized by President Grover Cleveland.
After Hawaii was formally annexed by the United States by President William Mckinley, Queen Liliuokalani was arrested and confined to Iolani Palace in 1895. She was given a military tribunal and charged with conspiracy after a weapons storage for the counterrevolution lead by royalists who wanted the Hawaiian monarchy reinstated was found. It was during this time that she composed much of her musical works and wrote her book Hawaiis Story by Hawaiis Queen.
Facts & Trivia
- Island: Famous People
- Fun Fact: Liliuokalani was a talented singer and musician. She could play the guitar, piano, organ, ukulele, and zither.
- Pop Culture: Queen Liliuokalani composed over 150 songs, including the tune "Aloha Oe" which means "farewell to thee" and became the first female Native Hawaiian author when her memoirs "Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen" was published in 1898.