Liholiho (Kamehameha II) sailed from Honolulu, November 27, 1823, accompanied by his favorite wife Kamāmalu, Boki and his wife Liliha, Kekūanāo’a, Kapihe, Manuia, James Young Kanehoa, a few servants, and his interpreter John Rives.
The ship L’Aigle arrived at Portsmouth, England, about May 18, 1824. The Hawaiian party was conducted to London by the master of the vessel, Captain Valentine Starbuck. As soon as the government learned of their arrival. it immediately assumed the charge and direction of their entertainment. (Kuykendall)
In London, Liholiho and Kamāmalu became ill. It is believed they probably contracted the measles on their visit to the Royal Military Asylum (now the Duke of York’s Royal Military School.) Virtually the entire royal party developed measles within weeks of arrival, 7 to 10 days after visiting the Royal Military Asylum housing hundreds of soldiers’ children.
Kamāmalu (aged 22) died on July 8, 1824. The grief-stricken Kamehameha II (age 27) died six days later, on July 14, 1824. Prior to his death he asked to return and be buried in Hawai‘i.
George Canning, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs informed King George IV, noting “Mr. Canning hardly knows whether he does right in venturing to intrude upon your Majesty with the intelligence of the death of the King of the Sandwich Islands …”
“… but as it will probably be repeated in the Newspapers of this Evening, he thinks that your Majesty may perhaps forgive the intrusion. The Event took place early this morning. “
“Mr. Canning humbly presumes that Your Majesty will not disapprove of a Ship of War being allowed to carry back the Suite of the deceased Chief, with the remains of himself and his wife, to the Sandwich Islands …”
“… an Attention perhaps the more advisable as the Governments both of Russia and of the United States of America are known to have their Eyes upon those Islands: which may ere long become a very important Station in the trade between the NW Coast of America and the China Seas.” (Report of the Historical Commission, Territory of Hawaii, 1925)
By the death of the king, Boki became the leader of the party. After they had all regained their health and arrangements had been completed for their return to Hawaii, an interview was held (September 11, 1824) with King George IV who was accompanied by Secretary Canning and some other officials. (Kuykendall)
“We first entered the palace of the king, and afterwards the king entered and his friends; and then came also two chiefs, one of whom was called Kalaimoku, (Mr. Canning,) and another besides him. We then were introduced. King George IV stood before Boki and said to him, and we heard it.”
“‘I exceedingly regret the recent death of your king and his wife. The chiefs and people will think, perhaps, that I have been inattentive to your king …’”
“‘ … but it is not so, for the same medicine and the same physicians have been employed as are employed by the chiefs of this nation. On account of the severity of the disease, he died.’”
“Then King George asked Boki the chief …, ‘As you have come to this country, and the king has died here, who will be king of the land?’ Boki answered … ‘His Majesty’s younger brother will be king, but it is for Kaahumanu and Kalaimoku to take care of the country.’”
“The king then asked Boki ‘What was the business on which you and your king came to this country?’ … Then Boki declared to him the reason of our sailing to Great Britain.”
“‘We have come to confirm the words which Kamehameha I gave in charge to Vancouver, thus, ‘go back and tell King George to watch over me and my whole kingdom.’”
“‘I acknowledge him as my landlord and myself as tenant, (or him as superior and I as inferior.) Should the foreigners of any other nation come to take possession of my lands, then let him help me.’”
“And when King George had heard, he thus said to Boki, ‘I have heard these words. I will attend to the evil from without. The evils within your kingdom it is not for me to regard – they are with yourselves.’”
“‘Return and say to the King, to Ka‘ahumanu and to Kalaimoku, I will watch over your country. I will not take possession of it for mine, but I will watch over it, lest evils should come from others to the kingdom. I therefore, will watch over him agreeably to those ancient words.’”
“Then James Young told Boki the words of the king, – then we heard all these words, Boki, Liliha, Kapihe, Naukana and James Young, heard these words.”
“I also, Kekūanāo’a – we all heard the words of the king to Boki; but the most of the whole company is (are) dead, two of us only remain, viz, James Young and myself.” (Kekūanāo‘a in Report of the Foreign Minister, 1855)
Kanehoa reiterated these statements in a later communication to Wyllie, “At the interview between George IVth and the chiefs, I acted as Interpreter, Rives not being permitted to appear at the interview.”
“Boki informed George IVth that the king had intended to place his Islands under his protection, to which George IVth replied, you must look after the inside affairs, and I will look after the outside …”
“… this affair of the protectorate formed the chief topic of the interview.” (Kanehoa to RC Wyllie (Minister of Foreign Affairs,) January 31, 1851 in Polynesian, October 11, 1851)