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H.M. King Lunalilo


His Majesty King William Charles Lunalilo was born on January 31, 1835. His mother was High Chiefess Miriam Auhea Kekāuluohi and his father was High Chief Charles Kanaʻina. He was a direct descendant of the younger brother of King Kamehameha I, High Chief Kalaimamahu.

In 1844 His Majesty King Kamehameha III officially claimed the young Lunalilo eligible to the throne and was sent to be groomed to rule at the Chiefs Children's School.

When His Majesty King Kamehameha V died on December 11, 1872, he did not name a successor. Under the Kingdom's constitution, if the monarch did not appoint a successor, then a new king would be elected by the legislature from the members of the royal house who were eligible to rule. The people believed the throne rightly belonged to Lunalilo since he was closely related to the Kamehamehas and a descendant of Keōua nui.

But Lunalilo urged the people of the Kingdom to have their voices heard to select their ruler...he quotes:

"Whereas, it is desirable that the wishes of the Hawaiian people be consulted as to a successor to the Throne, therefore, notwithstanding that according to the law of inheritance, I am the rightful heir to the Throne, in order to preserve peace, harmony and good order, I desire to submit the decision of my claim to the voice of the people."

The other proclaimed candidate was High Chief David Kalākaua, but Lunalilo was the more popular of the two and he was officially elected King on January 7, 1873 and installed the next day on January 8.

Lunalilo composed Hawaii's first national anthem, "E Ola Ke Ali'i Ke Akua", which was Hawaii's version of "God Save the King". He wrote the song in fifteen minutes in a contest hosted by newspaper publisher Henry Whitney in 1862 for the birthday of His Majesty Kamehameha IV. He won the contest and was awarded ten dollars at the time.


On August 1873, King Lunalilo contracted a severe cold which developed into pulmonary tuberculosis. Soon after on February 3, 1874, he died from tuberculosis at the age of 39. On his deathbed, he requested his burial on the grounds of Kawaiaha'o Church instead of the Royal Mausoleum.

Lunalilo also did not name a successor to the throne which enabled another election for a sovereign. This time the eligible ruler, High Chief David Kalākaua was elected by the legislature and he became King on February 7, 1874.

Lunalilo left his vast estate to care for the elderly Hawaiians, known as Lunalilo Homes to house the poor, destitute people of Hawaiian descent.

Later when his father, Charles Kanaʻina had died, and at the sale of his father's estate, a feather cloak was purchased by the Hawaiian Government for $1,200. Her Majesty Queen Dowager Emma was a competitor for this cloak. This cloak belonged to Kalaimamahu, the father of Kekāuluohi, who was the wife of Kanaʻina and mother of the late King Lunalilo. Two portraits, one of Lunalilo and the other of Kekāuluohi, were also bought by the Government for $100 each.

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