Public viewing at palace for ‘last Hawaiian princess’

The casket carrying the 96-year-old heiress considered the last Hawaiian princess was put on public display Sunday at a palace in downtown Honolulu that benefited from her wealth.

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa’s casket, handcrafted from a 165-year-old koa tree that fell during a storm on the Big Island in 2021, arrived at ‘Iolani Palace in a hearse. He was greeted with a traditional Hawaiian wail and a song of his lineage before being carried by members of the security forces up the front steps of the palace to the throne room.

Family spokeswoman Caroline Witherspoon called the procession “very touching,” saying, “Crying — it was just beautiful. It just caused a visceral reaction in me. I started crying.” The palace is America’s only royal residence, where the Hawaiian royal family lived but now serves as a museum. Kawananakoa was the palace’s single biggest benefactor, according to his community, and even paid its electricity bills for many years.

Members of the public were allowed to queue to view his casket and were not required to wear the shoe covers normally worn by palace visitors as a safety measure. A carpet was installed for mourners to walk on to be viewed.

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The viewing was scheduled to end at 8pm local time.

Kawananakoa died at his home in Nuuanu, near Honolulu on Dec. 11. He died “peacefully” with his wife, Veronica Gail Kawananakoa, 70, by his side, according to the news release.

“Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people,” his wife said in the release, “and I will miss her with all my heart.” Kawananakoa did not have an official name but was considered a princess because her lineage included the royal family that once ruled the Hawaiian Islands. He was a monument to the Hawaiian kingdom and a symbol of national identity that remained after the overthrow of the kingdom by American businessmen in 1893.

In 1895, a failed attempt by Hawaiian rulers to restore Queen Liliuokalani to power resulted in her arrest. He was court-martialed in his command room. After he was found guilty, he was imprisoned in the upper bedroom of the palace for eight months.

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Kawananakoa inherited his wealth from his grandfather, Irish businessman James Campbell, who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and one of Hawaii’s largest landowners.

He was married to Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright. Their daughter, Abigail Wahiikaahuula Campbell, married Prince David Kawananakoa, who was named heir to the throne. Their daughter gave birth to Abigail.

After the prince’s death, his widow adopted their granddaughter, Abigail, which strengthened her claim to be the princess.

He received more money for Campbell than anyone else and amassed a trust worth about $215 million.

In 2017, a court battle began over the administration of his trust after he suffered a stroke. In 2018, Kawananakoa tried to settle his trust to ensure his wife would receive $40 million and all of his assets, according to court records.

Three years later, a judge ruled that Kawananakoa could not manage his land and business affairs because he had a disability.

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Kawananakoa gained notoriety when he sat on the ‘Iolani Palace throne in a 1998 Life magazine photo shoot. He damaged some of the delicate threads.

The scandal led to his ouster as president of the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, a position he held for more than 25 years.

In addition to maintaining the palace, Kawananakoa funded a variety of causes over the years, including scholarships for Native Hawaiian students, opposition to the Honolulu rail transit project and protests against the giant telescope. On Friday, Gov. Josh Green ordered US and Hawaiian flags to be flown at half-staff at the state Capitol and state offices at sunset Monday for his funeral services.

A private funeral service is planned for Monday at Mauna ‘Ala, also known as the Royal Mausoleum State Monument, the burial site of Hawaii’s royalty.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and was automatically generated from an aggregated feed.)

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