Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Peacock Princess

I've begun reading Sarah Vowell's "Unfamiliar Fishes" about the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy. It's depressing because it reminds me of the tragic story of Princess Victoria Kaiulani.
Kaiulani was the strikingly beautiful crown princess of Hawaii at the time American business interests overthrew the native government and took possession of the islands for themselves. She was eighteen at the time and studying in England. Kaiulani traveled to the United States to campaign for her people.

Imperialists denounced Kaiulani as a "half-breed," daughter of a savage (Princess Miriam Likelike) and a Scottish businessman (Archibald Cleghorn). However, Kaiulani was a persuasive young woman and she convinced President Grover Cleveland to oppose American annexation of Hawaii. His successor, William McKinley had no qualms about stealing the islands and annexation quickly followed his inauguration.

By then Kaiulani had returned home to Hawaii. Like all native Hawaiians, she mourned on the day the United States officially took possession of Hawaii.  Many say she began to die on that day. Just seven months later, Princess Kaiulani fell ill after being caught in the rain. She died on March 6, 1899 at the age of 23.
Kaiulani was known as the Peacock Princess because of her love for the flock of the those birds that lived on her estate in Waikiki. The last picture of the princess shows the then dying girl feeding the birds.
It is said that all the peacocks screamed at the moment she died. The beautiful home in that picture was torn down in 1955 to make room for Waikiki hotels. The only thing left of the 10 acre estate she loved is a tiny park with a statue to Princess Kaiulani.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, the house burned down in the 1920s.