12 September 2016

Jewel History: Most Princely Entertainment (1909)

Princess Elizabeth, wife of Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole (Photo: Hawaiian State Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

"Most Princely Entertainment"
(originally appeared in the Hawaiian Star, 17 Sep 1909)

It was a night garden party, brilliant yet simple in details, which Prince and Princess Kalanianaole [1] gave as a reception to the congressional party last night at Pualeilani, the sylvan home of the host and hostess in Waikiki [2]. Incandescent lights bespangled the foliage of the park in front of the terrace on which the quaint and tropical domiciliary group stands. Various national flags and signal code pennants, including Hawaii's old royal standard, drooped from the trees. There was a subdued illumination of the main bungalow and the grass house, the entrances to which were gracefully canopied or curtained with flags. This scheme of soft light and modulated color served to enhance the brilliancy of the receiving pavilion, extending at right angles to the terrace far down through a colonnade of stately trees. Here a flood of light turned night to noontide in the receiving arena, while the drapery of bunting against living green made one solid background of palpitating color.

Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole (Photo: Hawaiian State Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Out of the glare of the actual reception, upon the lawn amidst the trees, hundreds of chairs were set in symmetrical sections with aisles between, where the invited people, after having paid their respects to the host and hostess and guests of honor, sat and were served with refreshments. Sitting and strolling by turns the thousands formed ever-changing and congenial groups, old friends exchanging the little courtesies and introducing each other to new friends. One section of seats was occupied by the red-shirted Poolas, knights of the waterfront [3], and another by the women of the Kaahumanu [4] and other societies, gaily decorated with membership badges and official regalia. Army and navy officers, in large number, mingling their dress uniform with the sedate apparel of civilian men, together with the women in infinite diversity of dress, made a kaleidoscopic picture in the dreamland setting which for picturesque enchantment would be hard to parallel anywhere.

Queen Liliuokalani (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, Delegate to Congress, and his amiable and beautiful spouse, Princess Kalanianaole [5], stood at the head of the receiving line. They were attended by Senator Charles F. Chillingworth [6], who presented the callers to them. Queen Liliuokalani [7] sat next to the host and hostess in line, graciously extending her hand to be shaken by everyone and offering each a word of greeting. It was a trying ordeal for one of her years [8], yet throughout the nearly two hours of receiving, her venerable countenance fairly beamed with pleasure...

Pieces from Queen Liliuokalani's jewel collection, on display ca. 1917 (Photo: Hawaiian State Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

The Poolas assisted as guides and sentries. Guests were directed to the grass house with its display of tapas [9] and to the living bungalow where a splendid display of Hawaiian royal jewels and relics was on exhibition -- including the star presented by the Czar of Russia to Kalakaua [10], a warship having been dispatched under sealed orders to Honolulu with the gift -- and the decorations of the orders of Kamehameha, of Kalakaua, and of Kapiolani. A single brilliant in the Kamehameha jewel is valued at $12,000. Conspicuous among the relics is an elephant tusk with the date 1836 upon an inset silver plate. Music was furnished by the Hawaiian band and a quintet club alternately.


1. Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole (1871-1922) and his wife, Princess Elizabeth Kahanu Kalanianaole (1879-1932). Prince Kuhio was one of the designated heirs of the last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. He was imprisoned for his role in a rebellion against the Republic of Hawaii, which was formed after the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. After the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, he was elected as a (non-voting) delegate to Congress. A Hawaiian state holiday, Prince Kuhio Day, is celebrated in his honor every March 26th. His wife, Princess Elizabeth, was a descendant of the rulers of Maui.

2. After the American annexation, Prince Kuhio and Princess Elizabeth settled at Pualeilani, the home that he had inherited from his aunt, Queen Kapiolani (wife of King Kalakaua, the penultimate Hawaiian monarch).

3. The Ahahui Poola Society was a union of Hawaiian longshoremen.

4. The Ahahui Kaahumanu Society was formed in 1864 by Princess Victoria Kamamalu. The society, which was named for Queen Kaahumanu (a wife of King Kamehameha I), was devoted to causes benefitting the elderly and the sick.

5. See note #1.

6. Charles Frederick Chillingworth (1877-1967), a Hawaiian-born lawyer and legislator, was elected to Hawaii's territorial senate in 1906. He served as the senate's president from 1915 to 1922.

7. Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917) was the last monarch of Hawaii, reigning from 1891-1893. She was formally named the heir apparent of her brother, King Kalakaua, in 1877. While she was away in London attending Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, Kalakaua was compelled to sign a document that stripped the monarchy of most of its power. When she inherited the throne in 1891, she drafted a new constitution that was intended to roll back the changes of 1887; this was one of the major catalysts that led to the coup d'√©tat in 1893 that ended the monarchy for good.

8. Liliuokalani was 71 at the time of this reception.

9. Nope, not the little dishes served as bar food in Spain; in this case, a "tapa" is a kind of cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree (which is also, appropriately, called the "tapa cloth tree").

10. Russia and Hawaii had significant connections in the nineteenth century. King Kalakaua sent a diplomatic delegation to attend the imperial coronation of Tsar Alexander III of Russia in 1883; the Hawaiian foreign minister presented the newly-crowned emperor with the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I. In return, Alexander sent Kalakaua the Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky.