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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Crowning king and queen

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: Coronation ceremony at 'Iolani Palace
Video: King Kalakaua’s coronation remembered

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

David Kawananakoa and his aunt, Abigail Kawananakoa, descendants of Princess Kekaulike, were the center of attention at 'Iolani Palace yesterday on the 125th anniversary of the king's coronation.

Photos by BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Tourists and residents watched history come alive yesterday as direct descendants of Hawaiian royalty re-enacted the coronation of King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani at 'Iolani Palace on the 125th anniversary of the event.

Red and white bunting draped from the palace railings greeted hundreds who witnessed the event, in which direct descendants of Kalakaua — Princess Abigail Kawananakoa and her nephew, David Kawananakoa — re-enacted the coronation ceremony.

Abigail Kawananakoa is a descendant of Princess Kekaulike, sister of Kalakaua's wife, Queen Kapi'olani.

Members of the four Hawaiian royal societies marched in their garb representing the Hale O Na Ali'i, the Royal Order of Kamehameha, 'Ahahui Ka'ahumanu and the Daughters of Hawai'i.

Abigail Kawananakoa read from a speech she wrote in 1983, at the coronation's 100th anniversary.

"To some King Kalakaua's coronation ceremony was deemed an extravagant expense that the little kingdom of Hawai'i could not easily afford," Kawananakoa read. "The people who gathered a century ago brought with them hope for a survival of their country in a troubled world."

After the pomp of the ceremony, the Friends of 'Iolani opened the palace's first floor and basement to the public to allow people to view the ring that Kalakaua wore for his coronation exactly 125 years ago.

Also displayed were two other pieces from Kawananakoa's private collection, an 11.75-karat capstone "King David Kalakaua Diamond" and the Miniatures of the Royal Order, an 18-karat yellow gold necklace holding 10 diamonds.

The event program included a copy of the original song sheet, and a copy of the original invitation.

Sandy Hayes of Connecticut was among the first 30 people allowed into the palace to view the jewels. She was awed by what she said was the beauty of the necklace.

"I think it's spectacular," Hayes said. "It's all very elegant. The king must have been a large man because the ring is so large. I would hope all the Native Hawaiians would see it."

After the coronation ceremony, a line of people waiting to get a free tour of the only palace in the United States stretched from the King Street entrance to the Richards Street gate. The first floor and the basement of the palace was opened to the public.

Doris Gagnon of Ottawa comes to Hawai'i every year. Yesterday, the Canadian sat under a tree to watch the coronation ceremony.

"I love history," Gagnon said. "Everywhere I've traveled — around the world — I stop to see royal palaces and parliaments. We love the history of Hawai'i and the sense of place."

Correction: Abigail Kawananakoa is a descendant of Princess Kekaulike, not King David Kalakaua. A photo caption in a previous version of this story was inaccurate.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.