Queen Kapiolani

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Queen of the Hawaiian Islands
Kapiolani, photograph by A. A. Montano (PPWD-15-7.024).jpg
Tenure 12 February 1874 -
20 January 1891
Spouse Benjamin Nāmākēhā
Kalākaua (as Queen)
Full name
Esther Kapiʻolani or Esther Kapiʻolani Napelakapuokakaʻe
House House of Kalākaua
Father Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole
Mother Kinoiki Kekaulike
Born (1834-12-31)December 31, 1834
Hilo, Hawaiʻi
Died June 24, 1899(1899-06-24) (aged 64)
Waikīkī, Hawaiʻi
Burial (1899-07-02)July 2, 1899[1]
Mauna Ala Royal Mausoleum

Queen Kapiʻolani (1834–1899) (formerly Esther Kapiʻolani or Esther Kapiʻolani Napelakapuokakaʻe), was married to King David Kalākaua and reigned as Queen Consort of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.


Kapiʻolani was born December 31, 1834 in Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island to High Chief Kuhio Kalanianaʻole of Hilo and Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike of Kauaʻi, the Nīʻaupiʻo daughter of King Kaumualiʻi, last King of an independent Kauaʻi before its amicable cession to Kamehameha the Great. She was also the step-granddaughter of Queen Regent Kaʻahumanu by virtue of Kaʻahumanu's marriage to Kaumualiʻi. She was named Esther Kapiʻolani, after her great-aunt High Chiefess Kapiʻolani, who defied the goddess Pele in the name of Christianity, and the Biblical queen Esther. Some called her incorrectly as Julia. "Julia" was derived from Kapiʻolani's personal motto, "Kulia I Ka Nuʻu"; "Strive for the Highest". Because of this many books show that her first name to be Julia.

Her name, Kapiʻolani, meaning Rainbow or Arch of Heaven.[2]

Kapiolani's first marriage was to High Chief Benjamin Nāmākēhāokalani or sometimes called Bennet Namakeha. He was 35 years older than Kapiʻolani. He was uncle of Queen Emma on her father George Naʻea's side. This made her the aunt of Queen Emma, who she served as her highest lady-in-waiting. Kapiʻolani was the caretaker of Haku O Hawaiʻi, Prince Albert Kamehameha. Queen Emma blamed Kapiolani for the child's death as he was under Kapiolani's care at the time.

Kapiʻolani married Kalākaua in a quiet ceremony because their wedding fell during the time of mourning for King Kamehameha IV. She and Kalākaua were childless so she and her sister Poʻomaikelani hānai (adopted) their sister Victoria Kinoiki Kekaulike's three sons. Kapiʻolani took David and Jonah and Poʻomaikelani took Edward. David established the House of Kawānanakoa which would eventually succeed the House of Kalākaua.[citation needed]

Queen Kapiʻolani.

In 1887, Queen Kapiʻolani traveled to London to attend Queen Victoria's 50th Jubilee celebration. Princess Liliʻuokalani, King Kalākaua's sister, traveled with Kapiʻolani as her interpreter since though Kapiʻolani was brought up understanding English, she refused to speak anything but Hawaiian. The Hawaiian Royal family were treated as dignitaries, and were seated with the British Royal family in the front of Westminster Abbey.

Queen Kapiʻolani established the Kapiʻolani Maternity Home, where Hawaiian mothers could receive care, as well as their newborn babies. It survives today as the Kapiʻolani Medical Center. Kapiʻolani Park in Waikīkī was named after the Queen by her husband Kalākaua. One of her noted compositions to Hawaiian music was a love song she wrote for her husband, Ka Ipo Lei Manu. Kalākaua died in San Francisco before he could hear the musical composition from his Queen.


After the overthrow and her eviction from ʻIolani Palace, Queen Kapiʻolani retired to her home called Pualeilani in Waikīkī, dying there June 24, 1899 at age 64.


Royal Coat of Arms of Hawaii (Kalakaua).svg
Royal Coat of Arms of Hawaii
Royal Monogram of Queen Kapiolani of Hawaii.svg
Royal Monogram of Queen Kapiolani of Hawaii


See also[edit]

Media related to Queen Kapiolani at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Roger G. Rose, Sheila Conant and Eric P. Kjellgren. "Hawaiian standing kahili in the Bishop museum: An ethnological and biological analysis". Journal of the Polynesian Society. Polynesian Society. pp. 273–304. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  2. ^ Finding Fine Heart

External links[edit]

Royal titles
Preceded by
Queen Emma
Consort of Hawaiʻi
1874 - 1891
Succeeded by
Prince John Owen Dominis
Preceded by
Queen Emma
Queen Dowager of Hawaiʻi
1891 - 1899
Succeeded by
Monarchy abolished