The Life of Princess Ka’iulani: The Half-Scottish Hawaiian Royal
On October 16, 1875, Princess Victoria Ka’iulani was born to Archibald Scott Cleghorn
and Princess Miriam Likelike. Her mother, Princess Miriam was the sister of King Kalākaua and
Queen Liliʻuokalani and her father Archibald was from Scotland and was well known in the
mercantile and horticulture industries. Like most young royal children, princess Ka’iulani was
raised by her nurse and governess for the first years of her life and was raised in an area of
Waikiki called Âinahau. Princess Ka’iulani spent her childhood partaking in leisurely activities in
nature, spending time with her pets, dancing and singing with music, and playing with her
friends. As she grew older, she especially liked being active with horseback riding, swimming,
Princess Ka’iulani’s happy childhood came to an end when her mother, Princess
Likelike, died when she was eleven and her governess died not too long after her mother. A few
years after her mother died, Princess Ka’iulani went to a boarding school in England to further
her education. She was interested in going to where her father had come from and was always
enamored with the stories he told her of Scotland and England which influenced her to study
there. While she was studying there, her uncle, King Kalākaua, died and he was succeeded by
her aunt Liliʻuokalani who was now the Queen. On one of her father’s visits, Archibald took his
daughter throughout the United Kingdom, showing Princess Ka’iulani her Scottish and Celtic
roots. Princess Ka’iulani took an interest in Celtic art and spent a lot of her time creating art, one
of her paintings which depicted the Scottish countryside is hung inside of the Bishop Museum.
Ka’iulani felt such strong love for her home in Hawai’i and her newfound home in Scotland and
continued to live in Scotland for more time.
Ka’iulani never got to see herself become Queen as Hawaii's monarchy was overthrown
in 1893 by the United States. Ka’iulani was nowhere near her home as it was taken away from
her and it had been quite some time since she was last there, so this news hit her very hard.
Ka’iulani was able to make a statement in regard to the overthrowing of the monarchy from
England, but could not do too much as she was thousands of miles away from home. Ka’iulani
started to make her way back home and traveled to the mainland United States and made more
statements and speeches with various newspapers, pleading for her home Hawai’i to be left
alone and to stop the interference of the United States. Prior to her arrival in America, the
American people had their premonitions about who and what Princess Ka’iulani would turn out
to be. The Americans were expecting a savage and primitive person but were met with a
beautiful, well-educated, kind young girl, as Ka’iulani was only eighteen at the time. She went
throughout New England visiting major cities and attending various events and social gatherings
and eventually made her way down to the White House.
President Grover Cleveland and his wife, Frances Cleveland, had already been aware of
who Princess Ka’iulani was before she visited them, Frances was particularly interested in
Ka’iulani as she was impressed with how this young woman carried herself and spoke in her
statements and her speeches. The President felt that he might have made a mistake in his
actions with Hawai’i after witnessing Princess Ka’iulani’s discourse and he took action to try and
change the motions being set forth in Hawai’i. While Hawai’i was to no longer be annexed, the
monarchy was not going to be reinstated in Hawai’i. After this heartbreaking news, Princess
Ka’iulani returned to Europe and proceeded to live there for several more years. Ka’iulani faced
more heartbreak in the following years as she lost her half-sister, Annie Cleghorn, her English
guardian, Theophilus Harris Davies, and longtime family friend, Robert Louis Stevenson.
Princess Ka’iulani returned to Hawai’i in 1897 and shortly after moving she announced that she
was engaged to Prince Kawananakoa. On August 12, 1898, Princess Ka’iulani and the other
members of the royal family were deeply saddened as Hawai’i had officially been annexed by
the United States. On March 6, 1899, Princess Ka’iulani died at age twenty-three after suffering
from an illness she contracted from being out in a storm on the Big Island. Her memory still
remains throughout the Hawaiian Islands and throughout history as the first Hawaiian monarch
with Scottish ancestry and as the princess who fought for her home.
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of Hawaii.” History of Royal Women, 4 Feb. 2018,
Campsie, Alison. “The Scots-Hawaiian Princess Who Beguiled Robert Louis
Stevenson.”News, 26 Dec. 2016,
“Ka'iulani: Hawaii's Island Rose.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 7 May 2009,
“15 Facts about Ka'iulani, Hawaii's Last Crown Princess.” Recollections Blog, 24 Oct.