The Monarchy Becomes Royalty
After Kalākaua returned, he reminded the people that, though he was king, he had never been crowned. No other Hawaiian king had ever been crowned, but Kalākaua wanted to have an official ceremony. Important people from many countries were invited. Dresses for the queen and her sisters were ordered from Europe. Two crowns of gold and precious stones were ordered from Great Britain. The beautiful new ‘Iolani Palace was ready for the royal family. It was a crowning the like of which the Hawaiians had never seen and never would again. The feathered kāhili stood at each side of the new thrones. By the side of the queen were eight grand women dressed in black velvet and white satin. The queen had a gown of red velvet trimmed in white fur. As for Kalākaua, he wore a white uniform, the breast of which was covered with medals and ribbons. His tall helmet was topped with a plume of red, white, and blue feathers.
At the time of crowning in 1883, however, the Kamehameha feather cape was put gently around his shoulders. The king’s genealogy was recited. Then he took his crown and lifted it upon his own head. After that, he took the smaller crown and put it upon the head of Queen Kapi‘olani. After the crowning, there was dancing, feasting, singing, and performing of the hula that lasted throughout the week.
Two days later, Kalākaua called for a statue of Kamehameha the Great to be unveiled in front of the Government Building. Thomas Gould, an American artist living in Italy, had actually made two statues. The first one was on a ship that was wrecked on the way to the islands. Later it was taken from the sea and placed at Kamehameha’s birthplace, Kapa‘au in Kohala on Hawai‘i. This second one, like the first one, was of Kamehameha the Great, spear in hand.
On the king’s fiftieth birthday, November 16, 1886, there was a huge birthday celebration given in his honor. Bells rang at midnight. Fireworks lit the sky. Fine ho‘okupu of silver, ivory, and silk, among other things, were sent to him from home and abroad. Even school children dropped money into a “gift box” for their king. That same year, in June 1887, Queen Victoria in England also had a celebration, the Golden Jubilee. She had been a queen for fifty years. Queen Kapi‘olani and Princess Lili‘uokalani went to England to attend the celebration. While there, news came from Hawai‘i that caused them to return at once. There had been a revolution.