For some condsiderable time, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, the kingdom of the island of Hawaii fragmented into several petty principalities and chiefdoms. Internecene warfare between them became common. Unity had to wait until a young Chief of the main dynasty, began a series of wars of conquest and strategic alliances. Succeeding his brother as Alii of Kohala and Kona in 1782, he set out to unify Hawaii proper, and later to subdue the neighbouring islands. Known to history as Kamehameha the Great, he came to unify the whole of the Hawaiian, or Sandwich, islands into a single kingdom by 1810. His descendants ruled the united kingdom, until the extinction of his direct line in 1874.
At the extinction of the male line of Kamehameha, the nobles and chiefs chose David Kalakaua, a great noble of high standing and a descendant of Kamehameha the Great's grandfather. He died without issue having nominated his sister, Liliu-o-kalani, as is successor. She was deposed by an armed coup d'etat by American colonists in 1893.
The leaders of the coup proclaimed a republic in 1894, filling all senior government positions themselves, to the exclusion of Hawaiians. Four years later they succeeded in persuading the United States to annex the islands outright. After a period of sixty years, in which, free immigration from the continental US reigned, Hawaii was given the opportunity of becoming a State of the United States. Not surprisingly, the majority of the electorate eventually chose, so to do. Throughout this period, the Hawaiian monarchy, its institutions and its symbols have provided a powerful source of national pride and reminder of freedom to the indigenous population.
Queen Liliu-o-kalani not having had any living issue herself, adopted and appointed David Kawanakoa as her Heir Presumptive. He was raised to princely rank and granted the style of Royal Highness, along with his children and siblings. It is with his descendants, that the claim to the regal title now rest.
Copyright©Christopher Buyers, August 2000 - October 2023