Hey royal watchers! UK and Hawaii share a long, rich history

Hey royal watchers! UK and Hawaii share a long, rich history
The royal couple! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry Saturday. (Image: @kensingtonroyal)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the world celebrates the royal wedding, what better time to look at Hawaii's strong connections to Britain?

Britain's influence began the first day of Hawaii's contact with the western world.

In January 1778, Captain James Cook of northern England landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay.

Cook was searching for a northwest passage from the Pacific to Atlantic. He "named" the region the Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich.

This interaction opened the doors to the west. Cook was killed only a year later in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island. The notoriety of this event intrigued and even scared Europeans, who ended up staying clear of the islands for the next decade.

(Image: Captain James Cook)

According to HawaiiHistory.org, Captain George Vancouver visited Maui, anchoring at Lahaina.

He noted the island appeared impoverished by years of war with little surplus food to offer in trade. Vancouver stopped in Hawaii three times from 1791-1794, wintering his ships between stints of mapping the northwest coast of America.

Vancouver had also visited the islands with Cook's second and third voyages.

As captain of his own ships, he acted as negotiator and peacemaker between warring Hawaiian chiefs and helped patch up relations between Kamehameha and his favorite wife Kaahumanu. He refused to sell any firearms to chiefs, but gave them beef, cattle, geese, sheep and goats.

(Image: Captain George Vancouver)

In business with the Brits 

Whaling, an industry that along with sandalwood carried the economy of Hawaii from 1819 to the Civil War, began in the Pacific Ocean in 1789 with the arrival of the British whaler Emilia.

According to author Chris Cook, British whale ships joined others from New England ports in replenishing their ships in Hawaiian ports.

Before Kamehameha's death in 1819 Tahitians began arriving at the port of Honolulu, often aboard British ships. Some Tahitians had been "Christianized" by the London Missionary Society and brought word of the new teachings to the royal court.

According to author Stephen Luscombe, religious missionaries would accidentally influence the course of Hawaiian affairs.

The American and British Protestant Missionary societies had agreed to divide the Pacific between them. The Americans would take the North of the equator, the British the South. The Hawaiians were distrustful of this arrangement and of the intentions of the Americans.

Consequently, King Kamehameha II traveled to Britain personally to try and gain a concrete agreement for permanent protection. Unfortunately, he died of Measles on arrival. However the survivors of the expedition did get the promise they were looking for.

(Image: King Kamehameha II)

A brief British takeover 

The Paulet affair was the five-month occupation of the Hawaiian Islands in 1843 by British naval officer Captain Lord George Paulet.

Later that year, Admiral Richard Darton Thomas sailed into Honolulu Harbor. He became local representative of the British Commission by out-ranking Paulet. His intention was to end the occupation.

On July 31, he held the Hawaiian flag in his hands as he officially transferred the islands back to the king. Kamehameha III later named the place where the ceremony was held in Downtown Honolulu "Thomas Square" in Admiral Thomas's honor and dedicated it as a public park.

(Image: Thomas Square)

Cultural convergence

For the next half century, Hawaii was a very peaceful country that was welcoming to British ships and businessmen.

It particularly boomed after 1875 according to historian Stephen Luscombe, when the Americans removed sugar taxes from Hawaiian imports. Many British sugar plantations took advantage of the market access. They even financed a railroad to help get the crops to the port side.

In the 1870s, King David Kalakaua combined the regal airs of the Victorian British monarchy with a return to the ways of old Hawaii.

Kalakaua wore jeweled crowns, and had a sword of state created. Well-educated and well-traveled, Kalakaua recognized the importance of the visit of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in the 1880s. Kalakaua cultivated a friendship with Stevenson and held a luau for him.

(Image: King David Kalakaua)

Hawaii became well known in England in the 1910s through a book written by In the English poet Rupert Brooke, who traveled to  Honolulu and Kauai in 1913. Waikiki was mentioned in his popular book of poetry that portrayed an optimistic vibe in the early years of World War I.

(Image: Book by Rupert Brooke)

Author Chris Cook notes that today the British influence remains in Hawaii. Beretania, the Hawaiian language's version of Britain, is one of Honolulu's busiest streets. Tea is served at fancy hotels such as the Waikiki's Halekulani. And the Union Jack is still seen in the left corner of the Hawaiian flag..

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.