History buffs visiting Hawaii won’t want to miss Iolani Palace. Though not as well known as London’s Buckingham Palace, Iolani is the only Royal Palace to have ever stood on U.S. soil and it offers its guests a unique journey in to a past steeped in history as interesting as it is disturbing.
Built in 1882 in an area occupied by former Kings of Hawaii, the Palace was home to King Kalakaua and his sister Queen Lili’uokalani. At the time, its construction was a modern masterpiece complete with indoor plumbing. In fact, these Royals were so modern that Iolani Palace actually had electricity before the White House.
King Kalakaua is remembered by the people of Hawaii as the “Merrie Monarch”. He had a love of the arts and was determined to preserve Hawaiian culture for future generations. It is in his honor that we celebrate the Merrie Monarch festival each year. He was an extremely social king and hosted several lavish events at the palace for high ranking dignitaries from around the world. After his death in 1891, his sister was proclaimed Queen and held a lavish event of her own, only her ball was strictly for children. Queen Lili’uokalani had a love for children that lives on through a trust she established that continues to benefit the children of Hawaii today.
It was during Queen Lili’uokalani’s reign that the monarchy was overthrown and Hawaii was annexed to the United States. The Queen was imprisoned in the palace with no access to the outside world save for one servant. A lover of peace, the Queen reluctantly relinquished her right to rule the kingdom to avoid conflict and loss of life for her people. Like her brother, she loved the arts and spent her imprisonment composing music and laying the foundation for her memoir, “Hawaii’s Story, By Hawaii’s Queen”.
After the fall of the monarchy, the contents of the palace were sold at auction and have ended up as far away as Australia. In the interest of historical preservation, the Friends of Iolani Palace organization has been working to locate and return original palace artifacts from around the world.
This is but a fraction of what you’ll learn on a tour of the palace. In addition to the history lesson, you’ll get a feel for the opulent lifestyle of the Hawaiian monarchy through the collection of photos, furnishings and jewels on display in the basement gallery.
If your Hawaii vacation plans include learning more about the history of the Hawaiian people, then the Iolani Palace is a must-see. You can learn more about the palace by visiting their website at: http://www.iolanipalace.org
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