Discover Honolulu: What is the Hawaiian Royal Tomb?

At the Iolani Palace, the site of the Hawaiian Royal Tomb is marked by a low, iron fence surround a mound of grassy area with Ti plants and shrubbery.

The death of Kamehameha II, 1824

Nearly two hundred years ago, the Royal Tomb (also known as “Pohukaina”) was built following the deaths of King Kamehameha II and his wife, Queen Kamamalu. Today, it is remember as a site once home to the remains of Hawaiian royalty.
While on a visit to London in 1824, the royal couple died of measles within days of each other. Aboard the HMS Blonde, their remains were transported back to Honolulu. From 1825 to 1865, the royal tomb was the final resting place for Hawaiian kings and queens, royalty, and figures of authority. On October 21, 1865, a midnight caravan transported eighteen coffins to a new royal mausoleum, located in Nu’uanu Pali.

The Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii

The Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii is now home to two of Hawaii’s most prominent families, the Kamehameha family and the Kalakaua family. Construction of the Royal Mausoleum began soon after the death of Kamehameha IV in 1863. The building, a chapel designed by Theodore Heuck in the Gothic Revival architectural style,  was completed in 1865. The Royal Tomb remains transfer was done in a ceremonial procession from the burial vault at ʻIolani Palace to the new mausoleum at Nuʻuanu Valley in October, 1865.

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