The Life of Princess Ka’iulani: The Half-Scottish Hawaiian Royal - Shayden Glenn

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,

and surfing.

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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Times, A Biography, “Victoria Kaʻiulani - The Last Crown Princess

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 Institution, 7 May 2009,

“15 Facts about Ka'iulani, Hawaii's Last Crown Princess.” Recollections Blog, 24 Oct.