Hawaii is home to the only monarchy in the history of the US. The imprints of the kingdom are all over modern Hawaii, not just in the palaces and other historical sites, but also the state's flag and motto. Kamehameha I was the first to unify all of the islands under one rule, first winning control of his native Hawaii Island before conquering the bulk of the other islands in 1795. The remainder joined the kingdom peacefully, and Kamehameha presided over the united Hawaiian Islands until 1819.
The Kamehameha dynasty lasted for five rulers in all, until 1872, and Hawaii functioned as a monarchy until 1893, when Liliuokalani was overthrown by Americans and other foreign nationals living on the islands with the aid of US Marines. After 98 years and nine rulers, the legacy and remnants of the monarchy can be seen across the Islands.
We honor the royalty of Hawaii from the first King Kamehameha who united the islands of Hawaii to Queen Kapi’olani and King David Kalākaua. We pay tribute to Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani and to Queen Ka’ahumanu who broke the Kapu system. Moving closer to modern times, we tell the stories of Queen Emma, Prince Lunalilo, Princess Ka’iulani and our last reigning Queen Lili’uokalani.
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