Who Was Abigail Kawananakoa, Hawaii’s Last Princess?

Who Was Abigail Kawananakoa, Hawaii's Last Princess?

Kawananakoa was Hawaii’s last princess. If Hawaii were still its own nation with its own monarchy, she would have likely assumed the throne. She descended from James Campbell, an Irish businessman who came to Hawaii in the mid-1800s and made a fortune as a partner in a Maui sugar plantation.

Abigail Campbell, James Campbell’s wife, is pictured with her children.

The Shingle Family/Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Though Kawananakoa had no official title and wielded no power in Hawaii, many native Hawaiians see her as a symbol of a time when Hawaii was its own nation. The US annexed Hawaii in 1898, having already ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt, in 1893.

Queen Liliuokalani

Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt.

Iolani Palace in Honolulu/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press, Forbes

Kawananakoa was worth about $215 million and dedicated parts of her fortune to various causes, including keeping Iolani Palace — America’s only royal residence which is now a museum — intact.

iolani palace

Don Ramey Logan/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press

But Kawananakoa’s former attorney claimed that Worth had physically abused Kawananakoa, who had a stroke in August 2017. The former attorney also said Worth was financially exploiting Kawananakoa because Kawananakoa was mentally unfit to manage her own finances.

abigail kawananakoa purse

An Iolani Palace worker wears gloves to show a silver purse donated to the palace by Kawananakoa.

Caleb Jones/AP Images

Source: Hawaii News Now

Kawananakoa, who said she was able to manage her own money, fired the attorney. The state Attorney General’s office became involved in the battle over Kawananakoa’s money because of allegations that charitable assets earmarked for native Hawaiians are being squandered.

iolani palace throne room

The throne room of Iolani Palace.

Caleb Jones/AP Images

Source: Hawaii News Now

Kawananakoa has supported the preservation of native Hawaiian culture, donating items like King Kalakaua’s roughly 14-carat diamond pinky ring to the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Not many people know there was an American princess, making Kawananakoa’s life story an incredible piece of US history.

king kalakaua's ring

King Kalakaua’s ring is displayed on a chain at Iolani Palace.

Caleb Jones/AP Images

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