Abigail Kinoiki, the Last Hawaiian Princess, Dies at 96

Abigail Kinoiki, the Last Hawaiian Princess, Dies at 96

Hawaii’s reputed “last princess,” Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawnanakoa, passed suddenly at 96. One of the last surviving members of the royal line, the princess was known to her friends as Kekau and was honored for her generous support of traditional Hawaiian culture.

Iolani Palace, the historic palace of the royal family and the only royal residence in America, released a statement on Sunday confirming that the heiress had passed away quietly at home in Honolulu with her wife by her side.

According to her wife, Veronica Gail Kawnanakoa, “Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people.” “She will be sorely missed,” I said. Nobody has yet identified a cause of death. Abigail Kawnanakoa was raised in California and Shanghai after being born in Honolulu in 1926.

 

Her great-grandfather, James Campbell, an Irish businessman who owned a sugar plantation, was the source of her enormous wealth, which is thought to be $215 million (£175 million) and was kept in trust. When Hawaiian merchants overthrew the royal family in 1893, his daughter married Prince David Kawnanakoa, who was third in line for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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President Grover Cleveland called the participation of US citizens in the coup at the time an “embarrassment” due to their role in the destruction of the Hawaiian monarchy. Abigail’s claim to the fictitious title of the princess was enhanced when the prince’s widow adopted their grandson under the “hnai” rite of traditional Hawaii after the prince’s passing in 1908.

A different branch of the previous royal family asserts that Princess Owana Ka’ohelelani is the legitimate leader of the current dynasty, despite some genealogists asserting that Princess Kawnanakoa had the strongest royal ties to Hawaii.

In a 2021 interview with Honolulu Magazine, Mrs. Kawnanakoa acknowledged that, had the monarchy lived, her cousin Edward Kawnanakoa would have been next in line to rule, according to the succession laws. She jokingly said in the interview, “Of course, I would be the power behind the throne, there’s no question about that.

Mrs. Kawnanakoa supported scholarships for native Hawaiians and gave to preserve Iolani Palace, which is now a museum, among her charitable deeds. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Abigail KK Kawananakoa Foundation, established in 2001, set aside $100 million (£81 million) of her money to aid native Hawaiian causes after her passing.

She was known to test religious leaders by promising them big sums of money – sometimes in exchange for absurd requests – and her friends applauded her sense of humor. Jim Wright, who served as her attorney from 1998 to the present, reported that she once granted a request for $100,000 (£81,281) from the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

She agreed to pay, but only in exchange for a picture of Pope Benedict XVI cashing her check. Josh Green, the governor of Hawaii, was one of many to pay respect to Mrs. Kawnanakoa and express his and his wife’s “great sadness” over the passing.

“Like so many Alii who came before her, Abigail handled the weight of her position with dignity and humility, enhanced the lives of everyone she touched, and has left a legacy dedicated to her people in perpetuity.” For the remainder of Sunday, he had mandated that flags be flown in her honor at half-mast. Her influence on the indigenous culture, according to Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte, was modest.

He is cited as saying, “We didn’t really comprehend what her position was and how she could aid us.” However, the leaders of the Native Hawaiian caucus in the state legislature, Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, and Representative Daniel Holt, praised her for her generosity and efforts, which they claimed had substantially benefited the island’s people and culture. Her history “dictates that I must take care of the Hawaiian people,” she told the judge in a court appearance in 2019 on the management of her wealth.