#143 in the Moʻolelo series
Some might scoff at the title of this post, but none can deny that Prince Kūhiō was a Prince in the 20th century – the United States accepted this as fact. At the time of his funeral, The Sunday Star newspaper of Washington, D.C., noted:
…better known as Prince Cupid in Washington … he was the last member of the Hawaiian Royal family.The Sunday Star, Mar. 19, 1922.
But why would we take a Washington newspaper’s word for it, especially when Abigail Kawānanakoa has been approved to be buried at Mauna Ala?And if all this is true, it begs the question: who else was a royal in the 20th century? Because it couldnʻt be only Kūhiō – he was only number 7 on the list of King Kalākaua’s heirs. His brother David Kawānanakoa was number 3 on that same list – after only Liliʻuokalani and Princess Kaʻiulani. Kawānanakoa died in 1908, Kūhiō in 1922 and Kawānanakoa’s son David in 1953 – so they would be on our emerging list of 20th century Royals.
There are at least 13 members of the Kawānanakoa clan today, probably many more. (I have it on good authority that the royal order called Hale O Nā ʻAliʻi serves as a de facto court-in-waiting for the Kawananakoas – my grandmother was a 50 year member). But what about other lines? Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi named a “regent,” in the early 1990s who would represent the monarchy in their democratic structure. The guitarist Owana Salazar has long claimed royal lineage from the Kamehameha line – or the Keoua line, which one genealogy I saw said “has many descendants” (this claim is examined somewhat in UH law professor Jon Van Dyke’s book Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawaiʻi?). There are also a number of families said to descend from Kamehameha in the book Kamehameha’s Children Today by Emma DeFries – it meticulously lists Kamehameha’s children, grandchildren, Great-grandchildren and so on for several generations (although some have questioned its accuracy).
My question is: if Kūhiō was a Royal in the 20th century, when did there stop being Royals? Was there an end to these aliʻi lines? Evidence strongly suggests not, which opens questions about Hawaiian leadership – a controversial and relevant topic today.