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“Mournful aloha” shared with the passing of Princess Abigail Kawānanakoa

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Princess Abigail Kinohiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa. Courtesy photo

The passing of Princess Abigail Kinohiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa was announced this morning by the Kawānanakoa Family, the Hale O Nā Aliʻi O Hawaiʻi royal Hawaiian society, and ‘Iolani Palace.

The announcement indicates Kawānanakoa passed on Sunday evening, Dec. 11, 2022, at the age of 96.

The announcement, which was shared by Paula Akana, executive director of ʻIolani Palace said, “We join each other in a period of mourning. Please allow the Kawānanakoa Family this time. Services for the Princess are being coordinated; when plans are finalized, they will be shared. We place before you this mana‘o with mournful aloha.”

In a press release issued this morning, it was noted that Kāwananakoa, who was known by her closest friends and family as “Kekau,” died peacefully at her Nu‘uanu home with her wife Veronica Gail Kawānanakoa at her side.

“Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawai‘i and its people,” said Veronica in the release, “and I will miss her with all of my heart.”


Princess Abigail was a member of The Royal House of Kawānanakoa, which held the closest ties to Hawai‘i’s last two reigning monarchs, King Kalākaua and Queen Liliu‘okulani, according to the release. 

Kawānanakoa was on April 23, 1926 in Honolulu. She was the daughter and only child of Princess Lydia Kamaka‘eha Liliu‘okulani Kawānanakoa Morris and William Jeremiah Ellerbrock. At the age of five, Kawānanakoa was legal adopted as the malu hānai of her maternal grandmother, Princess Abigail Wahiika‘ahu‘ula Campbell Kawānanakoa, who lovingly raised her, according to the release.

“Elevated to the generation of her mother, Princess Abigail accepted her birthright and obligation as a daughter and granddaughter of The Royal House of Kawānanakoa to preserve the dignity and legacy that is The Royal Family of Hawai‘i,” according to the release announcing her passing.

The document also outlined her lineage as follows:

Princess Abigail’s royal lineage is distinguished and ennobled by courtesy title as the eldest granddaughter of His Royal Highness Prince David La‘amea Kaluaonalani Kahalepouli Pi‘ikoi, surnamed Kawānanakoa. He, along with his young brothers Edward Abnel Keli‘iahonui and Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole were the recipients of “Letters Patent…issued under the Great Seal of the Kingdom” by His Majesty King David Kalākaua, “granting the dignity of Prince to their Royal Highnesses…with precedence under the title of Royal Highness next to…” their mother, “Her Royal Highness Princess Mary Kinoiki Kekaulike and above all other subjects.”


After the passing of HRH Princess Mary Kinoiki Kekaulike in 1884, Her Majesty Queen Kapi‘olani applied for and received Letters of Guardianship over the persons and estates of her youngest sister’s three children:  HRH Prince David Kawānanakoa, HRH Prince Edward Abnel Keli‘iahonui and HRH Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole. Henceforth, these three Princes took up residence in ‘Iolani Palace with King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani and constituted The Royal Family of Hawai‘i.

The announcement also highlighted Kawānanakoa’s legacy and accomplishments:

“Princess Abigail was a benevolent patron of Native Hawaiian language, culture and arts, and she gave generously to many individuals and families who sought her charity. Prominent among her support was the monumental restoration and preservation of ‘Iolani Palace to its former grandeur envisioned by King Kalākaua during his travels abroad. Governor John A. Burns entrusted this restoration to HRH Princess Liliu‘okalani Morris and upon her passing in 1969, Princess Abigail carried on the legacy of her mother to successfully oversee its transformation. Princess Abigail remains the greatest benefactor of ‘Iolani Palace, which stands today as a historical museum and cultural treasure.

“Princess Abigail was also a patron of the movement to revive Native Hawaiian language through her early and strong support of ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, the Merrie Monarch Festival, and multiple private and royal foundations. She was also known for her personal generosity to Native Hawaiian individuals, providing scholarships and paying the medical bills of those in need, among other acts. She established three foundations in her name so that her philanthropy will continue after her passing.

“A talented and avid equestrian, Princess Abigail is beloved among the quarter horse community nationally. She was especially known for her ethical and loving treatment of her horses.”


Princess Abigail Kawānanakoa is survived by her wife in addition to HRH Princess Esther Nāpelakapuokaka‘e Kapi‘olani Kawānanakoa, HRH Prince David Klaren Kaumuali‘i Kawānanakoa, HRH Prince Quentin Kūhiō Kawānanakoa, and HRH Prince Andrew Pi‘ikoi Kawānanakoa. 

Gov. Green issues flag order

Governor Josh Green, M.D. has ordered the lowering of flags until Sunset on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, to honor the late Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa who passed on Dec. 11, 2022.

“Jaime and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa. Abigail bore the weight of her position with dignity and humility, enriched the lives of everyone she touched, and like so many Aliʻi who came before her, she has left a legacy dedicated to her people in perpetuity. Hawaiʻi mourns this great loss, and our aloha and heartfelt condolences go out to her entire ʻohana and all who had the privilege of knowing Princess Abigail Kawānanakoa,” said Gov. Green in a statement.

Kawānanakoa was described in the governor’s release as “a passionate advocate for Native Hawaiian causes, believing that her wealth was to be used to help preserve the Native Hawaiian culture and people.”

The Native Hawaiian royal descendent was 96 years old.

Native Hawaiian Caucus issues statement

Senator Jarrett Keohokalole (Senate District 24 – Kāneʻohe and Kailua) and Representative Daniel Holt (House District 28 – Sand Island, ʻIwilei, Chinatown), co-chairs of the Legislative Native Hawaiian Caucus, issued the following joint statement today on Kawānanakoa’s passing:

“On behalf of the Legislative Native Hawaiian Caucus, we extend our condolences and aloha to the Kawānanakoa ʻohana on the passing of Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa.  As a longtime benefactor for the Friends of ʻIolani Palace and many other Native Hawaiian causes, Princess Abigail’s generosity and contributions have greatly benefited our lāhui.  Our hearts and prayers are with her ʻohana and loved ones during this time.” 

*Maui Now’s Wendy Osher contributed to this report.


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