top of page

Royal House of Keoua Nui

lunalilo tomb..jpg
Lunalilo Tomb at Kawaiaha'o Church
H.M. King Lunalilo

High Chief 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 Kamehameha I, Prince Kalaimamahu. 


Therefore, in 1844 King Kamehameha III officially claimed Lunalilo eligible to the throne  and was sent to be groomed to rule at the Chiefs Children's School. 


On December 11, 1872, His Majesty King Kamehameha V had died suddenly without naming a successor to the throne.  The people and the legislature had already assumed High Chief William Lunalilo would be the king as he was considered the highest rank by blood. But under the Kingdom's constitution, if the king did not appoint a successor, then the sovereign would be elected by the legislature chosen from the members of the royal house who were eligible to rule.


High Chief David Kalākaua offered his name as the other proclaimed candidate, as he was also eligible to the throne, but Lunalilo was the more popular of the two and he was elected King on January 7, 1873 and installed the next day on January 8. 

He composed Hawaii's first national anthem, "E Ola Ke Ali'i Ke Akua", Hawaiian 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 Kamehameha IV. He won the contest and was awarded ten dollars.

 In August of 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 Kawaiahaʻo Church instead of the Royal Mausoleum. Lunalilo also did not name a successor to the throne which enabled another election for a sovereign.  The High Chief David Kalākaua offered his name again for a candidate to the throne and he was elected by the legislature and became King on February 7, 1874.  


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

bottom of page