December 13, 2022
HONOLULU, HI—Hawaiian royal heiress Abigail Kawananakoa, known as the “last alii” (royalty) passed away on Sunday, December 11, at the age of 96. She used her vast wealth to support Native Hawaiian culture and causes and was a revered philanthropist.
Her death was announced in the Hawaiian language at Iolani Palace Monday morning.
“With profound sadness, the Kawananakoa Family, the Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii and Iolani Palace announce the passing of Her Royal Highness, Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa at 6:45 p.m.
We join each other in a period of mourning. Please allow the Kawananakoa Family this time.
Services for the Princess are being coordinated; when plans are finalized, they will be shared. We place before you this manao with mournful aloha.”
Shortly after the announcement, Gov. Josh Green declared flags would be flown at half-staff at the state Capitol building and all state offices until Sunday.
The cause of Kawananakoa’s death was not disclosed. She had been struggling with multiple health issues.
Abigail held no formal title, however, she was a living reminder of Hawaii’s monarchy and a symbol of Hawaiian national identity after the islands were illegally invaded and taken over by American forces and American businessmen in 1893, according to Hawaii News Now.
“She was always called princess among Hawaiians because Hawaiians have acknowledged that lineage,” Kimo Alama Keaulana, assistant professor of Hawaiian language and studies at Honolulu Community College, stated in a 2018 interview. “Hawaiians hold dear to genealogy. And so genealogically speaking, she is of high royal blood.”
“She epitomizes what Hawaiian royalty is ― in all its dignity and intelligence and art,” he added.
Abigail Kawananakoa’s great-grandfather was Irish businessman James Campbell, who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and one of Hawaii’s largest landowners.
James Campbell married Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright. Their daughter, Abigail Campbell, married Prince David Kawananakoa, who was heir to the Hawaiian throne.
After the prince died in 1908, his widow adopted young Abigail, who was born in Honolulu in 1926.
As an only child of an only child, Abigail Kawananakoa received the bulk of Campbell’s vast fortune, which amassed a trust valued at about $215 million.
She funded a host of Native Hawaiian and other causes over the years, including scholarships for Native Hawaiian students, opposing Honolulu’s rail transit project, supporting protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, donating items owned by King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani for public display, and maintaining Iolani Palace, reports Hawaii News Now.
In her final years, Kawananakoa was tied up in a legal battle over her massive fortune when a judge approved her then-attorney, Jim Wright, as a trustee after she suffered a stroke.
Wright was fired in 2007 and Kawananakoa married Veronica Gail Worth, her partner for 20 years. Unfortunately, a judge ruled that Abigail was unable to manage her property and business affairs because she was impaired.
Feature Image via Hawaii News Now