In rare honor, Abigail Kawananakoa lay in state at Iolani Palace as public offered final respects

Kawananakoa will lie in state in the throne room at Iolani Palace for public viewing from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 5:22 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2023 at 10:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 1,600 people waited hours Sunday to pay their final respects to the late Hawaiian heiress Abigail Kawananakoa, who lay in state at Iolani Palace in a rare honor.

The last time a royal family member lay in state at the palace was more than 100 years ago.

Kawananakoa is a descendant of Hawaii’s alii so a genealogy chant and traditional Hawaiian wailing were performed as a hearse brought her casket to Iolani Palace.

An honor guard of law enforcement officers carried her casket up the front stairs of the palace.

“Our alii has passed, and the love that I have for her for the many things she did. Her work has ceased here on earth, so we will not see her again,” said Hailama Farden, Iku Nahalani (premier) of royal Hawaiian society Hale A Na Alii. Farden says Kawananakoa is not the last alii of Hawaii, but she contributed tremendously to Hawaiian causes.


Kawananakoa is believed to be the biggest donor to the palace at more than $2 million dollars.

But Farden says she also contributed to many causes anonymously.

“I would often get calls from her, and she would say, ‘Hailama, I understand this is happening. Can you please make sure that they are taken care of — I don’t want them to know,’” he said.

Inside the palace Throne Room, Kawananakoa was in a handcrafted koa casket with her wife, Veronica, by her side. In a rare ritual, kahili bearers tilted their kahili toward the casket.

Kawananakoa is the 12th person to lay in state in the Throne Room.

The last was Prince Kuhio in 1932. It’s also where King Kalakaua, Kawananakoa’s great-granduncle, lay in state in 1891, and her grandfather, Prince David Kawananakoa, in 1908.

“I think it’s going to be really interesting to watch what happens because it hasn’t been done since Kuhio’s time and Prince Edward’s time,” said Paula Akana, executive director of Iolani Palace.

“But this may be the last time we see these rituals take place.”

Elena Farden brought her daughter, Hosana.

“It was very quiet,” said Hosana.

“This is something at your age you might not realize the significance, but in years to come, you will remember that you were part of this day,” added Farden.

Bert Nobriega says he waited two hours in line and left the palace in tears.

“I’m glad to be alive during this moment in history and be able to experience it,” said Nobriega.

On Monday, there will be a private funeral service at Mauna Ala, the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu.

More than 200 dignitaries and invited guests will be there.