“Monday, June 20th inst., being the 50th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, it is ordered as a mark of respect that all Government offices be closed during the day. L. Aholo, Minister of the Interior. Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, June 15, 1887.”
That wasn’t the only thing … church services, concerts, picnics and royal salutes made up the celebration in the Islands. The Royal Hawaiian Band played “God Save the Queen” at Emma Square.
The longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee on June 20 and 21, 1887, marking 50 years of her reign. Fifty foreign kings and princes, along with the governing heads of Britain’s overseas colonies and dominions, attended. (British Monarch)
“I received from my brother, the king, a most unexpected proposition. This was that I should accompany the queen to the grand jubilee at London, in honor of the fiftieth year of the reign of the great and good Queen of Great Britain.”
“It was on a Saturday night early in April that I received this invitation, which I at once accepted. … I then told (my husband) what had transpired between His Majesty and myself, and that it was my wish and intention to accept. He cordially agreed with me, and said that he would like to be of the party”.
“Only a few days of necessary preparation were left to us and by the 12th of April (1887) we were ready to embark on the steamship Australia, by which we had taken passage for San Francisco.” (Liliʻuokalani)
Queen Kapiʻolani brought along Liliʻuokalani to serve as Kapiʻolani’s interpreter. Even though Kapiʻolani was raised to understand English, she would speak only Hawaiian. Newspapers noted that Liliʻuokalani was fluent in English while Kapiʻolani spoke ‘clumsily.’ (UH Manoa Library)
Their entourage for the trip included Liliʻuokalani’s husband General John Owen Dominis; Curtis Piʻehu ʻIaukea, Governor of Oʻahu; Colonel James Harbottle Boyd and four servants. (Mr Sevellon A Brown, chief clerk of the US State Department; Captain Daniel M Taylor, US War Department; and Lieutenant Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers, US Navy Department accompanied them on the continent.)
They stopped off in San Francisco for a week where Lili‘uokalani tended her sick husband. They passed through Sacramento where most of them experienced snow for the first time. (OHA)
“A special train of three cars – kindly placed at the disposal of the excursionists by the D&RG (Denver & Rio Grande Railroad) … (was) reserved for their use over the D&RG system”. (Salt Lake Herald, April 30, 1887) They headed for the Great Salt Lake in Utah where they met with prominent elders of the Mormon Church. (OHA)
“Half an hour before the time for the train to arrive people began to gather at the depot. Whole schools of young children accompanied by their teachers flocked upon the platform and their number swelled by ladies and gentlemen made a crowd of several hundred people”.
“… the crowd gathered around the coach eager to get a glance at the Queen, a line was formed in the rear car and quite a number passed through the coach to shake the royal hand. The Queen received them all with a gracious smile in recognition of the courtesies shown her…. As the train pulled out of the depot the band played ‘Yankee Doodle’”. (Salt Lake Evening Democrat, April 29, 1887)
In Chicago, “The Kanakas’ Queen, Kapiʻolani and Suite in Chicago Enroute to Washington … “for the first time Chicago was visited by a real live queen. Her name is Kapiʻolani and she is the Queen of the Sandwich Islands There were no soldiers drawn up in line to receive her when the Burlington train roiled into the West Side station promptly at 2 p m and the populace consisted of an idle crowd of railroad men a few dozen curiosity hunters and two or three persistent reporters.”
“There was no one to cry in soft Kanaka ‘Aloha’ or ‘Love to you’ and as for the hundreds of people who at that hour alight from incoming trains they pursued their way all unmindful of the presence of royalty and its retinue.” (Fort Worth Gazette, May 6, 1887)
Unlike her visit to Chicago, in Washington DC, when the royal entourage arrived at Arlington Hotel, “There were scores of people at the station and hotel when her Majesty and suite arrived, and the crowd pushed hither and thither to get a glimpse of the company. Never before in the history of the Republic has a genuine Queen of a foreign power visited the United States.” (Sacramento Daily Union, May 4, 1887)
“Queen Kapiʻolani, wife of the Hawaiian King, was presented to the President and Mrs Cleveland today. The ceremony took place in the Blue Room. … Kapiʻolani is the first Queen to cross the White House threshold. … she carries herself with stately dignity”. (New York Tribune, May 5, 1887)
Under director John Philip Sousa, the band played ‘Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi,” Hawaiʻi’s national anthem and the “Star Spangled Banner.” Earlier, Kapiʻolani gave the former’s score to the band. (UH Mānoa, Library)
“After spending a few days here (Washington DC) sight-seeing she will go to New York. From there she goes to England to be present at the Queen’s jubilee. She has never been out of her own country before, and is quite anxious to see the “greatest woman on the face of earth,” as she calls Queen Victoria.” (The Stark Democrat, Ohio, May 5, 1887)
After a few days in New York City, Queen Kapiʻolani and her entourage departed for England, where they attended the Queen’s Jubilee.
Upon their return from Europe, Queen Kapi‘olani and her entourage stopped again in Washington, D.C. At that time, they toured the National Museum, later to become the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. As a result of that visit, Queen Kapi‘olani gifted the museum with a Hawaiian outrigger canoe to add to their collection. (OHA)
Queen Kapiʻolani had left the Islands under stress. Just before she left, Liliʻuokalani and Kalākaua’s sister, Miriam Likelike, wife of Archibald Cleghorn and mother of Princess Kaʻiulani, died on February 2, 1887. Her return was under stress, and expedited, as well. Rather than visits and state affairs, she limited her time.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was held on June 20 and 21, 1887. On June 30, 1887, the Honolulu Rifles demanded that King Kalākaua dismiss his cabinet and form a new one. Within days, with firearms in hand, the Hawaiian League presented King Kalākaua with a new constitution. Kalākaua signed the constitution under threat of use of force. (hawaiibar-org) As a result, the new constitution earned the nickname, The Bayonet Constitution.
“Queen Kapiʻolani and party reached (New York) from London (on July 11.) The queen expressed a wish to return home as soon as possible consistent with the health of the suite. It was decided not to stop more than a day or two at the longest in New York.”
“The queen … had been inclined to tears when she first heard the news of the Hawaiian revolution”. (Bismarck Weekly Tribune, July 15, 1887) Queen Kapiʻolani returned to Hawai‘i on July 26, 1887.