Royal House of Keoua Nui

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Lunalilo Tomb at Kawaiaha'o Church
King Lunalilo

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


King Kamehameha V died on December 11, 1872 without naming a successor. Under the Kingdom's constitution, if the king 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 other candidate was David Kalākaua, 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 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.