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Aloha Oe

March 2023
1min read

When Hawaii’s last queen went to her grave in 1917, the funeral was carried out with all the splendor and solemnity befitting the passing of a monarch. But, in fact, at the time of her death the yg-year-old Queen Liliuokalani had not ruled over Hawaii for nearly a quarter of a century. In 1893, having been sovereign for a scant two years, Liliuokalani had tried to overthrow the standing constitution, which had given major power to a local group of American legislators. Her attempt failed, the monarchy was abrogated, and a new provisional government applied for annexation to the United States, which occurred in 1898.

At first bitterly opposed to America, the deposed queen mellowed with the years, and on her death the Right Reverend Henry B. Restarick, the first American Bishop of Honolulu (Episcopal) was asked to conduct the funeral services. His daughter, Constance Restarick Withington, sent us this photograph of the obsequies, along with her father’s account of them.

“The burial of Hawaiian Alii (royalty) was unique in its combination of ancient customs and Christian practice. … After the service in the Palace, a catafalque which carried the coffin was drawn by scores of mourning Hawaiians, and officials of Hawaiian Societies in white uniforms and yellow capes, the bearers of Kahilis [plumed insignia of royalty], troops, and school children marched in procession to the tomb … where the final part of the service was said and the last queen of Hawaii was laid away while ‘Aloha Oe,’ her own farewell song [which she had written in 1878], wassung.”

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