Although Kalākaua had been elected and serving as King since 1874, upon returning from a trip around the world, in 1883, it was determined that Hawaiʻi’s King should also be properly crowned.
“ʻIolani Palace, the new building of that name, had been completed the previous year, and a large pavilion had been erected immediately in front of it for the celebration of the coronation. This was exclusively for the accommodation of the royal family …”
“… but there was adjacent thereto a sort of (coronation pavilion and amphitheater,) capable of holding ten thousand persons, intended for the occupation of the people.” (Liliʻuokalani)
On Monday, February 12, 1883, the imposing ceremony of the Coronation of their Majesties the King and Queen of the Hawaiian Islands took place at ʻIolani Palace.
The weather for the three previous days had been anything but favorable, it having rained incessantly during that time more especially on Saturday night. The roof of the amphitheatre not proving impervious to the drenching rain, it was made so by an additional covering of corrugated iron, all of which was put on betwixt a.m. and a.m. on Monday.
At break of day change of weather occurred. The sun shone forth with its wonted brilliancy. The reeds were spread over the line of march, and by o’clock the school children were marching towards the rendezvous.
At the appointed hour the procession started, and entering the Palace gates, the schools and societies took up the respective positions assigned to them.
“The Honorable President of the Legislative Assembly then took the King’s Crown and raised it up before the people and placed It In the hands of the Chancellor, saying : ‘I present this Crown to the rightful King of these Islands, approved by Acts of the Legislative Assembly in the Legislature of the Kingdom assembled of the years 1880 and 1882.’”
“The Chancellor then placed it in the King’s hands, saying: ‘Receive this Crown of pure gold to adorn the high station wherein thou hast been placed.’”
“The King then raised up the Crown and placed it upon his head.”
“The Chancellor then took the second Crown and placed it in the King’s hands, who rose and placed it upon the Queen’s head, who reverently bowed her head on receiving it, the King saying: ‘I place this Crown upon your head, to share the honors of my throne.’”
“The Crown is composed of a fillet or band of gold one inch in width, set, on each edge, with 192 small diamonds. Midway in the fillet set many rubies, save at the back, where there are set in the place of the emeralds and rubies 6 kukui nut jewels of a deep reddish black, highly polished.”
“At the front and back, and on each side, the fillet is surmounted by a golden Maltese cross, in the arms of which are set forty-eight diamonds, each arm having three. In the center of the cross in front of the crown is a magnificent diamond of about six carats weight, and on the sides others a little smaller.”
“A splendid carbuncle glows in the center of the cross at the back. Between the crosses are short curved bars forming twelve points, from which spring taro leaves in frosted gold, beautifully veined, and each on holding a diamond in its center.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, February 17, 1883)
“The taro leaf motifs adorning the crown’s fillet referenced the chief as the source of life. They denoted the role and responsibility of the chief as the progenitor of the people and the land, the chief’s descent from the gods, and the divine course of life.” (Kamehiro)
“Between the points are set twelve other fine diamonds. Springing from the fillet, over the crimson velvet cap of maintenance are eight bars of gold, whose surfaces are studded with half-round knobs, as in the crown of France.”
“These eight bars diminish in width, and finally unite at the base of globe of dark red enamel. These eight bars are emblematical of the union of islands of the group under one rule.”
“The globe that they uphold is banded horizontally with a circle of pearls, and another like band passes over the upper of the globe. Surmounting the whole is a golden Maltese cross, in which set four brilliant diamonds.”
“The Queen’s crown is precisely similar, except that it a trifle smaller. Each crown contains 521 diamonds, 54 pearls, 20 opals, 8 emeralds, 1 large carbuncle, and 6 kukui jewels.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, February 17, 1883)
In addition to the Western-style style crown, he received a sword, ring and scepter; Kalākaua was also presented with traditional items belonging to ruling Hawaiian chiefs: the feather cloak of Kamehameha I, the kāhili (standard) of Pili, and the pūloʻuloʻu (kapu stick) and lei palaoa (whale tooth pendant.)
A couple days later (February 14, 1883,) Kalākaua unveiled the King Kamehameha statue on the grounds of Aliʻiolani Hale (now the home of Hawaiʻi’s State Supreme Court.)