'Iolani Palace: A Chapter in Hawaii's Royal History

23 January 2014

As I mentioned before, in the center of downtown Honolulu stands the regal 'Iolani Palace. It is the only palace on US soil but it was not the first palace to exist on this site.


Up until 1879, a much more humble building stood on these grounds. It wasn't even considered the capitol as the king would often move about residences on several different Hawaiian islands. It was not until King Kalakaua returned from a tour of the world (making him the first monarch to circumvent the globe) that he ordered a new palace to be built; one that exuded the royal power of the Hawaiian crown and showed the world their strength.

staircases in the entry hall
the blue room
Opulent is the ideal word to describe this palace. Particularly inspired by the British monarchs, King Kalakaua had this palace built to rival the stature of Buckingham. Building materials were imported from around the world to complete it.

the dining room

But just a beautiful building wasn't enough. King Kalakaua called upon someone he met during his travels, Thomas Edison, to personally come to the palace and install electricity and phones to make it the most technologically advanced building on the isles. It even had electricity before Buckingham or the White House.


the throne room
Among other royalty, the Hawaiian monarchs were warmly welcomed. They were recognized across Europe as a legitimate line and princes and princesses from around the world were routinely hosted at 'Iolani Palace.

King Kalakaua's bedroom
the study
But the American businessmen did not care for the monarchy. They wanted unrestricted abilities so in 1887 The Bayonet Constitution went into effect. It was so named because the king was literally held at the point of bayonets and forced to sign the document that would all but turn the monarchy into a powerless figure head.

the music room

After King Kalakaua passed, Queen Kapiolani, his sister, ascended the throne. She wanted to return power to the native Hawaiians but was met with much contempt. Though her cabinet agreed with her, they were much too afraid to confront the powerful businessmen which had all but taken control of the country.

Queen Kapiolani's bedroom


Eventually the crown was overthrown and Queen Kapiolani was locked in one of the second floor bedrooms to live in exile in her own palace. In 1894, the country officially became the Republic of Hawaii. Later, in 1959, it became a US state.


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2 comments

  1. This looks fantastic! Lovely pics too ;)

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    1. Thanks! If I could just move into this palace I'd be happy for life, haha!

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