Hawaii’s last princess Abigail Kawānanakoa passes away at 96 years old

Hawaii’s last princess has reportedly passed away at the age of 96 years old. Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa died on Sunday in her Nu’uanu home with her wife, Veronica Gail Kawānanakoa by her side. The Iolani Palace released the news to the public yesterday. The palace is America’s only residence where the Hawaiian monarchy dwelled but now serves mostly as a museum.

According to KTLA, her wife spoke of her passing, remembering her fondly.

“Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people, and I will miss her with all of my heart.”

Princess Abigail was born on April 23, 1926, in Honolulu. By the age of five, the princess was legally adopted by her maternal grandmother who raised her among Hawaiian nobility. She attended an American school in Shanghai, China and graduated from Notre Dame High School in California. Although she held no formal title, she remained a living reminder of Hawaii’s monarchy and a symbol of the state’s national identity that persevered after the kingdom was overthrown by an American businessman in 1893.

Assistant professor of Hawaiian language and studies at Honolulu Community College, Kimo Alama Keaulana, said she always was referred to as royalty.

“She was always called princess among Hawaiians because Hawaiians have acknowledged that lineage. Hawaiians hold dear to genealogy. And so genealogically speaking, she is of high royal blood.”

The princess’s great-grandfather was an Irish businessman named James Campbell, who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and became one of Hawaii’s largest landowners. He went on to marry Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright and had a daughter with her named Abigail Wahiika‘ahu‘ula Campbell. She married Prince David Kawānanakoa, who was an heir to the throne.

Their daughter Lydia Kamaka‘eha Liliu‘okulani Kawānanakoa Morris had Abigail with her husband William Jeremiah Ellerbrock. But, after the prince passed away, his widow adopted their grandchild, Abigail, which then put her in line to the throne.

Known as “Kekau” to those close to her, she amassed a trust valued at around US $215 million. She funded various causes throughout her life, including scholarships for native Hawaiian students.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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