On October 16, 1875, a child was born to Princess Likelike (the youngest sister of King Kalākaua) and Archibald Cleghorn. The child, the only direct descendant of the Kalākaua dynasty, was named Victoria Kawekiu Kaʻiulani Lunalilo Kalaninui Ahilapalapa.
On March 9, 1891, Princess Kaʻiulani was duly appointed and proclaimed heir apparent to the Hawaiian throne.
Kaʻiulani inherited 10-acres of land in Waikīkī from her godmother, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Originally called Auaukai, Kaʻiulani’s mother named it ʻĀinahau.
The family built a two-story home on the estate. At first, the home was used only as a country estate, but Princess Kaʻiulani’s family loved it so much, it soon became their full time residence. As many as fifty peacocks, favorites of the young Princess, were allowed to roam freely on the grounds.
At the age of 13, Princess Kaʻiulani sailed to Europe to begin her education abroad; she spent the next 8 years studying and traveling in Europe.
Reports and rumors of Kaʻiulani’s engagement to various men have been reported over the years. It depends on whether you believe what you read in the newspapers or books – and which one you believe – to determine if the answer to the question posed in the title is true.
Newspaper reports in 1893 noted Clive Davies and Kaʻiulani were engaged. Clive Davies is the son of Theophilus Davies. Not only was the senior Davies’ firm, Theo H Davies, one of the Hawaiʻi Big Five, he personally served as guardian to Princess Kaʻiulani while she was studying in England (Davies had a home in Nuʻuanu called “Craigside;” he had another home in England, “Sundown.”)
Later, in 1897, newspaper accounts note George Davies, another son of Theo H Davies (Kaʻiulani guardian while she studied in England,) was engaged to the Princess.
A New York Times announcement in early 1898, stated, Prince David Laʻamea Kahalepouli Kinoiki Kawānanakoa (Koa) Piʻikoi, a descendant of the sister of Kalākaua’s wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, was engaged to marry Kaʻiulani – his cousin.
David was the first child of his father High Chief David Kahalepouli Piʻikoi, from Kauaʻi Island, and his mother Victoria Kūhiō Kinoiki Kekaulike. His younger brothers were Edward Keliʻiahonui (Prince Edward) (1869–1887) and Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (Prince Kūhiō) (1871–1922.)
Adding credibility to this announcement, reportedly, Queen Kapiʻolani gave Princess Kaʻiulani’s an engagement necklace in anticipation of the marriage between Kaʻiulani and Koa. It was originally a gift to Queen Kapiʻolani from King Kalākaua for their wedding anniversary.
Putnam Bradlee Strong
In late-summer 1898, newspaper reports stated Kaʻiulani was engaged to Captain Putman Strong, son of New York ex-Mayor Strong.
Later in 1898, reports suggested Kaʻiulani was engaged to Andrew Adams, son of a railroad engineer. He was previously a member of the staff of the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal and had moved to Hawaiʻi and worked at the Hawaiian Star in Honolulu.
James G Blain Jr.
An 1899 report has a cryptic reference that James Blain Jr was “at one time engaged to be married to Kaʻiulani”. Somewhat surprising, since his father, James Blain, worked to bind the kingdom more closely to the US, suggesting Hawaiʻi should become an American protectorate. Some suggest Blain was involved with the ultimate annexation of Hawaiʻi by the US.
German: Reportedly, in a letter to Queen Liliʻuokalani, Kaʻiulani wrote: “I could have married an enormously rich German Count, but I could not care for him. I feel it would be wrong if I married a man I did not love, I should be perfectly unhappy, and we should not agree, and instead of being an example to the married women of today, I should become like one of them, merely a woman of fashion and most likely a flirt. I hope I am not expressing myself too strongly but I feel I must speak out to you and there must be perfect confidence between you and me, dear Aunt.” (KaiulaniProject, June 22, 1894)
Japanese: King Kalākaua proposed a royal marriage to the throne of Japan. The proposal was a matrimonial relationship between Princess Kaʻiulani and a young Japanese Prince, Komatsu, during a private meeting. At that time, the offer was neither accepted nor rejected. Prince Komatsu himself had written King Kalākaua, formally thanking him but at the same time, stating that a marriage had already been arranged for him when he was very young. (ufl-edu)
Scottish: Of course, there is one more lingering message from the rumor mill – folks still suggest there was something going on between Kaʻiulani and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Stevenson made several trips to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and became a good friend of King David Kalākaua, with whom Stevenson spent much time. Stevenson also became good friends with Kaʻiulani, also of Scottish heritage.
Historians have debated the true nature of their relationship as to whether or not they had romantic feelings for each other. Because of the age difference, such stories have often been discredited. (Treasure Island – eBook)
Kaʻiulani never married.
While attending a wedding at Parker Ranch at Waimea on the Big Island, Kaʻiulani got caught in a cold Waimea rain while riding on horseback, she became ill; she and her family returned to O‘ahu.
Tragically, after a two-month illness, Kaʻiulani died at ʻĀinahau on March 6, 1899, at age 23. It is said that the night she died, her peacocks screamed so loud that people could hear them miles away and knew that she had died.