The Royal Order

#68 in the Moʻolelo series

Perhaps inspired by the Freemasons, of which he was a member, Kamehameha V created the Royal Order of Kamehameha I in 1865. Royal Orders are unknown to Americans, the country being founded with the premise of equality – this forbade any type of noble rank. Exclusively monarchial in origin, Royal Orders are chivalric orders, and may have begun with the Knights Templar. Perhaps the best known is the Order of the Garter in the UK, which was bestowed upon only the very highest and most esteemed (most useful to the Crown). One purpose of a Royal Order is global networking. Kalākaua used the Royal Orders, of which he created three, to this effect in the 1870s and 1880s. He gave high-level memberships to world leaders, creating exclusive clubs in which they were the only members.

These honors were not one way, with Kalākaua constantly attempting to curry favor with his “superiors” (the leaders of more powerful countries). The King of Portugal, for example, bestowed upon Kalākaua the Grand Cross of the Order of Vila Vicosa (Ing, 2019, 72).

According to the Royal Order of Kalākaua:

The Royal Order of Kalakaua was instituted on September 28, 1875 by King Kalakaua to commemorate his accession to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The order highly awarded to the head of states/dynasties, also as awards of merit to loyal individuals who provided noble services to the royal family and the kingdom.
Knight’s Grand Cross Sash Badge for the Royal Order of Kalākaua

Kalākaua bestowed the rank of the Knight Grand Cross Star on:

Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph I (1878)

President of Venezuela, Antonio Guzmán Blanco (1878)

Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (1881)

Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, Tewfik Pasha (1881)

Bey of Tunis, Muhammad III as-Sadiq (1881)

Vatican Secretary of State, Luigi Jacobini (1881)

King of Serbia, Milan I Obrenović (1882)

Presidents of Mexico, Manuel González and 

José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori (both 1884)

President of France, Marie François Sadi Carnot (1889)

The Kaʻiwakīloumoku website for the Kamehameha Schools describes the founding of the Royal Order of the Star of Oceania:

To coincide with his plan for a confederation of Polynesian nations, Kalākaua instituted the Royal Order of the Star of Oceania to be awarded for service rendered in advancing the name and influence of Hawai‘i among the Islands of the Pacific.

The Grand Cross Star of this order was awarded to King Malietoa of Samoa when Kalākaua was attempting to build his planned Pacific empire.

The first, best-known and most visible of the Royal Orders is the Royal Order of Kamehameha I. According to the Order’s website (

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I was established on April 11, 1865 by his Majesty King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuaiwa) to honor the legacy of his grandfather, the unifier of these islands, Kamehameha the Great.

Lot Kapuaiwa, His Majesty King Kamehameha Vfounded the Royal Order of Kamehameha I to defend the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii. After the overthrow of Her Majesty Queen Lili’iuokalani, the Provisional government declared the Royal Order of Kamehameha I a threat. 

The Order went underground until 1903 when His Royal Highness Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole led a torchlight ceremony around the statue of Kamehameha I and declared in public the restoration of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, announced the reorganization of the Hawaiian Royal Societies, and created the Hawaiian Civic Clubs.

Royal Order of Kamehameha I,

Dr. Lorez Gonschor, former Senior Lecturer at ʻAtenisi University in Tonga, gave a talk in the ʻIolani Palace speaker series on Royal Orders:

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