Picture of Queen Liliuokalani

Who: Liliuokalani, the first queen and last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Why She Dazzles: Born Lydia Kamakaeha in Honolulu in 1838, she ascended the throne after her brother’s death in 1891. When she became Hawaii’s queen at the age of 53, she was known from that time on as Queen Liliuokalani. Her reign was short term when the Hawaiian islands were annexed as a governed territory by the United States in 1898, but she remained an important figure into the 20th century.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Liliuokalani protested the annexation of Hawaii, and the failure led to the arrest of many of her supporters. American businessmen who wanted control over Hawaiian sugar and the islands confined Liliuokalani in her palace and to avoid bloodshed, she abdicated the throne in return for the release of her jailed sympathizers. Despite the turbulent times, Liliuokalani remained a model Hawaiian citizen who forgave (forgave!) her enemies and stood for all that was good in Hawaii’s history.

What She Would Say—Because She Said It Then: “Never cease to act because you fear you may fail.”

Picture of a 14-karat gold vermeil coral branch-shaped ring by Tidepool Love
Influenced by a visit to Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in England, Queen Liliuokalani commissioned a bracelet with “Ho’omanao Mau” (meaning, “lasting memory”) in old English letters in black enamel. She wore the bracelet for the rest of her life.

What She Would Wear to a Luau Tonight: A coral-inspired ring by a local Hawaiian jeweler. Coral around the Hawaiian islands represents about 85% of the coral reef in the United States, and the marine ecosystem faces significant threat from overfishing, pollution, and climate change. Unprecedented amounts of coral bleaching have taken place, and rising ocean temperatures create terrible conditions causing more damaged coral. But know this: you can take action to save the coral, no matter where you live.

Picture of Hula Sisters Card by Randy Jay Braun from Pacifica Island Art, Inc.
Native Hawaiians connected with their land and their gods through hula dancing.

What She Would Send to Her Friend: Liliuokalani published her memoir Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, five years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the same year it was officially annexed to the U.S. She was saddened by the loss of the independent island nation, but her love for her kingdom went beyond her leadership; she preserved the Hawaiian traditions and composed more than 100 songs including, Aloha Oe (Farewell to Thee), which became a national anthem of Hawaii.

Picture of a volcano in Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu
“Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station.”—Liliuokalani

Where She Would Instagram: Honolulu, the capital of the 50th state, Hawaii. Liliuokalani was the last sovereign of the Kamehameha dynasty, which had ruled a unified Hawaiian kingdom since 1810. Liliuokalani oversaw the island nation from Iolani Palace, also the residence of the monarchs, and she entertained and welcomed dignitaries from around the world to meet fellow natives in their beautiful country aka paradise.

Tweet This: Queen Liliuokalani’s motto was “Be steadfast in the seeking of knowledge” when she was the first queen and last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii #anewlady

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