Hawaiian royal heiress Abigail Kawananakoa to lie in state at Iolani Palace, a rare event

The last royal family member to lie in state at the palace was Prince Kuhio, more than a hundred years ago.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 4:18 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Iolani Palace is getting ready for the late Abigail Kawananakoa to lie in state there for a public memorial.

The last royal family member to lie in state at the palace was Prince Jonah Kuhio more than a hundred years ago.

Kawananakoa, a Campbell Estate heiress and considered a princess by many because of her royal lineage, will lie in state in the throne room at Iolani Palace on Sunday, Jan. 22 from 2 to 8 p.m.

Iolani Palace was built in 1882 and Abigail Kawananakoa will lie in state there as did King Kalakaua in 1891 and her grandfather, Prince David Kawananakoa in 1908.

Queen Liliuokalani’s private funeral was also in the throne room.

“There’s a spirit here that you feel, to me anyway, once you walk on the grounds,” said Zita Cup Choy, Iolani Palace historian.

She says Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was the last royal to lie in state at the palace in 1922.

“Members of the royal family have lain in state here beginning with Princess Likelike, Kalakaua’s sister after her death in 1887,” said Cup Choy.

She says the last person to lie in state in the palace’s Throne Room was Governor Oren Long in 1965.

The Throne Room was used by royalty as an audience room, reception room, ballroom and musicals in the 19th century. In the center are replicas of King Kalakaua’s coronation uniform and Queen Kapiolani’s coronation gown.

“She is a descendant of of Queen Kapiolani’s nephew Prince David Kawananakoa. Her mother was instrumental in the founding of Iolani Palace in 1966,” said Cup Choy.

Between the two thrones is a kapu stick, a traditional symbol of rank. They are surrounded by kahili, also Hawaiian symbols of rank. The crown sword and septer were ordered for Kalakaua’s coronation in 1883.

Kawananakoa was president of the Friends of Iolani Palace for almost 30 years. She donated money, artifacts the family inherited and was a guiding force for the palace’s restoration.

“She was very adamant about using primary source documents, about making sure we were representing the royal family, representing Hawaii, representing the palace respectfully and accurately,” said Cup Choy.

More details about the public memorial event will released in the coming days.