Royal Palaces on American Soil

The Iolani Palace, Honolulu

Most Americans are not aware that there are at least three royal palaces in the Hawaiian Islands. Two of them are in the Honolulu area: the Iolani Palace downtown and Queen Emma’s Summer Palace on the Pali Highway. Martine and I have been to the Iolani Palace in 1996 and intend to revisit it on our upcoming trip to O’ahu along with Queen Emma’s Summer Palace.

Hawai’i was a perfectly viable kingdom when the United States annexed the islands in 1898. In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Americans were eager for new colonies; and there was already in place a willing cadre of American settlers willing to raise Old Glory. The reigning monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani was kept a prisoner in the Iolani Palace under suspicion of “treason,” namely for being loyal to her country.

Interior Queen Emma’s Summer Palace

The other palace is connected with a happier time, when Queen Emma (1836-1885), wife to King Kamehameha IV preferred the cooler temperatures of her hillside retreat, which today is a museum operated by the Daughters of Hawai’i. The same group operates a third royal palace on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the Hulihe’e Palace in Kailua-Kona.

In my reading in preparation for our trip, I am concentrating on the period between Captain Cook’s landing on the islands in 1778 and the American annexation in 1898. The memory of the royal families of Kamehameha and Kalakaua is still alive in the islands. There is even a Royal Mausoleum in Honolulu where most of the royal family is interred.