Biography, Julia Flynn Siler, Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen

Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s Last Queen

Iolani

This week, I read the last chapters of Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure” by Julia Flynn Siler.   It has been well over a century since Queen Lili’uokalani was disposed, imprisoned and discredited, but her memory lives on in the hearts of her people.   Her life was marked by sorrows that accompany those who experience upheaval during periods of rapid economic expansion. These are the times when traditions are challenged and opposing sides cannot resolve their differences.  Clarity comes later.

Queen Lili’uokalani will always be Hawaii’s last queen.  Abolishing the monarchy does not change that fact.  An accomplished author and songwriter who composed over 165 songs and chants, she used her talents to honour her people and customs.   She wrote, “…He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.  It is for them that I would give the last drop of my blood; it is for them that I would spend, nay, am spending, everything belonging to me.”  Queen Lili’uokalani kept her word. To commemorate her 73rd birthday, she granted property, known today as Lili’uokalani Gardens, to her beloved people. Upon her death at 79 on November 11, 1917, she left her worldly estate to provide for orphan children of Hawaiian blood and other destitute children.

As I close the book on this narrative, I think of Robert Louis Stevenson, a visitor to the Hawaiian Islands, who wrote a poem for Ka’iulani, Queen Lili’uokalani’s niece and rightful heiress to the throne.  Ka’iulani’s life was brief, but her legacy is assured. She followed her aunt’s example of a courageous and valiant support for her people.

To Princess Ka’iulani

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the island rose,
Light of heart and bright of face:
The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here, in Southern sun,
Shall mourn their Kaʻiulani gone,
And I, in her dear banyan shade,
Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away
Shall glitter with unwonted day,
And cast for once their tempests by
To smile in Kaʻiulani’s eye.

Banyan Tree

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8 thoughts on “Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s Last Queen

    • You would enjoy the history of Hawaii. My family went for a holiday a few years ago – that was when I realized how little I know about the culture, the history, the food, the religion. It is a rich and proud heritage!!! :)

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    • You are right to feel sad for it is a story that has been told many times over the centuries. Even so, in the midst of despair, the Queen maintained hope, dignity and a determination to sustain the traditions and culture of her people. It gave me courage.

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  1. The kingdoms of the Pacific islands were just as majestic as any on the continents. However, many of them remain mysteries. It’s good to know that there’s one that had its story told.

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    • I often wonder how many stories have been lost in the folds of history. You would be interested in knowing that the United States offered an apology with Public Law 103 – 150 (known as the Apology Resolution), adopted November 23, 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton.

      “acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum” (U.S. Public Law 103-150 (107 Stat. 1510)

      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/US_Public_Law_103-150

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