Hale Kula Ali‘i, the Chiefs’ Children’s School (later called the Royal School), was created by King Kamehameha III; the main goal of this school was to groom the next generation of the highest-ranking chief’s children of the realm and secure their positions for Hawaii’s Kingdom.
Seven families were eligible under succession laws stated in the 1840 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i; Kamehameha III called on seven boys and seven girls of his family to board in the Chief’s Children’s School.
In 1839, King Kamehameha III, Hoapili and Kekāuluohi (mother of William Charles Lunalilo, who became the Kuhina Nui or regent of the Hawaiian Kingdom) signed a letter asking missionaries to run the Chiefs’ Children’s School.
In a missionary general meeting, “This subject was fully considered in connection with an application of the chiefs requesting the services of Mr. Cooke, as a teacher for their children; and it was voted,
That the mission comply with their request, provided they will carry out their promise to Mr. Cooke’s satisfaction; namely, to build a school house, sustain him in his authority, over the scholars, and support the school.” (Sandwich Islands Mission General Meeting Minutes, 1839)
The school was unique because for the first time aliʻi children would be brought together in a group to be taught, ostensibly, about the ways of governance. The School also acted as another important unifying force among the ruling elite, instilling in their children common principles, attitudes and values, as well as a shared vision.
No school in Hawai‘i has ever produced so many Hawaiian leaders in one generation.
The students ranged from age two to eleven, and differed widely in their temperaments and abilities, goals and destinies. But they all had one common bond: their genealogical sanctity and mana as Aliʻi-born.
The school building was square-shaped, about seventy-six square feet in area, with a courtyard in the center and a well. The thirteen or so rooms included a large classroom, kitchen, dining room, sitting room and parlor, and living quarters for the students and the Cookes. The entire complex was surrounded by a high wall, apparently intended as much to keep people out as to keep them in.
In this school were educated the Hawai‘i sovereigns who reigned over the Hawaiian people from 1855 (age noted is the age at death:)
Alexander Liholiho (February 9, 1834 – November 30, 1863 (age 29))
Alexander Liholiho became King Kamehameha IV and ruled over Hawaiʻi January 11, 1855 – November 30, 1863
Emma Naʻea Rooke (January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885 (age 49))
On June 19, 1856, Emma married Alexander Liholiho and became Queen Emma. In 1859, King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma founded Queen’s Hospital.
Lot Kapuāiwa (December 11, 1830 – December 11, 1872 (age 42))
Lot Kapuāiwa became King Kamehameha V and ruled over Hawaiʻi November 30, 1863 — December 11, 1872.
William Lunalilo (January 31, 1835 – February 3, 1874 (age 39))
The first elected King of Hawaiʻi; he became King Lunalilo and ruled over Hawaiʻi January 8, 1873 – February 3, 1874.
David Kalākaua (November 16, 1836 – January 20, 1891 (age 54))
He defeated Queen Emma in an election to the throne and ruled over Hawaiʻi February 12, 1874 — January 20, 1891.
Lydia Liliʻu Kamakaʻeha (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917 (age 79))
Hawaiʻi’s last reigning monarch, she was named heir apparent (and her name was changed to Liliʻuokalani) and succeeded her brother to the Hawaiian throne and ruled over Hawaiʻi January 29, 1891 – January 17, 1893.
Bernice Pauahi (December 19, 1831 – October 16, 1884 (age 52))
Great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, her estate operates the Kamehameha Schools (established in 1887) according to Pauahi’s will.
Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau Laʻanui (September 12, 1834 – December 20, 1928 (age 94))
Daughter of High Chief Gideon Peleioholani Laʻanui and High Chiefess Theresa Owana Kaheiheimalie Rives; she was great grandniece of Kamehameha I. She was the last Royal School alumnus to die.
Moses Kekūāiwa (July 20, 1829 – November 24, 1848 (age 19))
Son of Mataio Kekūanāoʻa and Elizabeth Kīnaʻu. He was a grandson of Kamehameha I.
Jane Loeau (December 5, 1828–July 30, 1873 (age 44))
Daughter of High Chief Kalaniulumoku and High Chiefess Kuini Liliha (descended from Kahekili II, Mōʻi of Maui, and High Chief Hoapili through her mother.) She was hānai to Ahukai (Kaukualiʻi.)
Victoria Kamāmalu (November 1, 1838 – May 29, 1866 (age 27))
She served as Kuhina Nui (Prime Minister) as Kaʻahumanu IV (1855-1863;) as Kuhina Nui, she effectively served as “Queen” for a day and proclaimed her brother Lot Kamehameha V the rightful successor to Kamehameha IV, when the latter died unexpectedly in 1863.)
Peter Young Kāʻeo (March 4, 1836 – November 26, 1880 (age 44))
Hānai to his maternal uncle John Kalaipaihala Young II (Keoni Ana) (Kuhina Nui (Prime Minister) (1845-1855) and son of John Young, the English sailor who became a trusted adviser to Kamehameha I)
William Pitt Leleiōhoku (March 31, 1821 – October 21, 1848 (age 27))
Son of the Kalanimōku (Prime Minister) and Kiliwehi (daughter of King Kamehameha I.) Hānai to John Adams Kuakini (Governor of Hawaiʻi Island and brother of Queen Kaʻahumanu.) He was married to the Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena and later to Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani.
Abigail Maheha (July 10, 1832 – ca. 1861 (age 29))
Daughter of High Chief Namaile and High Chiefess Kuini Liliha; Hānai to her aunt, Princess Kekauʻōnohi (granddaughter of Kamehameha I.)
James Kaliokalani May 29, 1835 – April 2, 1852 (age 16))
Son of High Chief Caesar Kapaʻakea and mother High Chiefess Analeʻa Keohokālole. Hānai to his maternal grandfather High Chief Aikanaka.)
Mary Polly Paʻaʻāina (1833 – May 28, 1853 (age 20))
Daughter of Henry Coleman Lewis and High Chiefess Fanny Kekelaokalani (daughter of John Young, the advisor of Kamehameha I, and was also grandniece of Kamehameha I.) Entering the school in 1843, she was the last girl to enter the school.
The cornerstone of the original school was laid on June 28, 1839 in the area of the old barracks of ʻIolani Palace (at about the site of the present State Capitol of Hawaiʻi.)