King Kalakaua’s Coronation

After witnessing royal coronations during his world tour, King Kalakaua thought he and his wife should have one, too.

On February 12, 1883, on the eighth anniversary of his reign, a brief procession went from Bethel Street on King Street to the grounds of Iolani Palace. Mainly consisting of Native Hawaiians, the procession included the police force, firefighters, community organizations, and public school teachers and students. The Royal Hawaiian Band also marched, and its music could be heard.

At Iolani Palace, under the clear skies and the hot sun, hundreds of people stood on the muddy grounds around the coronation pavilion. In the veranda, dignitaries sat on white wooden chairs.

During the coronation, the choir sang anthems, and the Marshal of the Household proclaimed the king’s style and titles. Kalakaua took an oath, and members of the royal family gave Kalakaua a cushion, a sword, the Royal Mantle, and the Kahili of King Pili (feathered standard to mark royalty). The chancellor placed a ring on Kalakaua’s right ring finger and gave him the royal scepter. Later, the chancellor stated a proclamation and gave the crown to Kalakaua, who then placed it on his head and Queen Kapiolani’s crown on hers.

The post-coronation festivities included unveiling the King Kamehameha statue, the state dinner, fireworks from Iolani Palace, the grand ball, a luau, and hula performances.

The lavish coronation did not come without criticism, for example, those from the anti-monarchy Saturday Press:

“How the aspirations of a vain monarch, led on by the plausible and persistent utterances of a glib-tongued but unscrupulous courtier, forced upon an unwilling people, an empty though costly ceremony. How that, instead of heightening the respect of his people for their sovereign, and adding dignity to the throne by the participation of greater potentates, either in person, or by proxy, neither anticipation has been realized; and only disquietude at home and ridicule abroad…

“From one end of the land to the other, this farce has been condemned … by all … Many of its consequences are yet in embryo only, although it needs but little penetration, or sagacity, to see that its ultimate effects to the country may be vastly more disastrous than the simple loss of money immediately now attendant.”

Read more about Kalakaua and Kapiolani’s coronation in the articles below.

– Alice Kim

Articles from Chronicling America

“Coronation Apologists”
Saturday press, February 10, 1883, Image 2

“The Crowning of the Dread King”
Saturday press, February 10, 1883, Image 3

“Crowned! Kalakaua’s Coronation Accomplished!”
The Hawaiian gazette, February 14, 1883, Image 2

“Crowned at Last”
Saturday press, February 17, 1883, Image 3

“King Kalakaua’s Koronation Kraze Komes to a Krisis!”
Saturday press, February 17, 1883, Image 2

“The Coronation, 12th February, 1883”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, February 17, 1883, Page 2

“The ceremony of the Coronation has been consummated…” (fifth column)
The Pacific commercial advertiser, February 17, 1883, Page 4

“Postponed Pleasures: Continued Coronation Festivities!”
The Hawaiian gazette, February 21, 1883, Image 2

“Hawaii–A King’s Coronation”
The Hawaiian gazette, February 21, 1883, Supplement, Image 5]

“The Coronation Ball”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, February 24, 1883, Page 5

“The Coronation Hulas”
The Hawaiian gazette, February 28, 1883, Image 2


5 Comments on “King Kalakaua’s Coronation”

  1. […] in history — April 3, 1893 — a custodian of Iolani Palace gives the crowns worn by King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani to government officials. Then they discover that Kalakaua’s crown is missing its jewels due to […]

  2. […] years after her first husband died, Kapiolani married David Kalakaua in 1863. When Kalakaua became the King of Hawaii in 1874, Kapiolani started her reign as the Queen Consort. The reign lasted beyond King […]

  3. […] in history — October 2, 1895, Princess Virginia Kapooloku Poomaikelani passed away. She was Queen Kapiolani’s younger sister, and her parents were Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike of Kauai and High Chief Kuhio […]

  4. […] in history — November 9, 1885 — Queen Kapiʻolani and King Kalakaua dedicated the Kapiʻolani Home for Girls. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser described the scene at […]

  5. […] the world near the Punchbowl Crater, the last king of Hawaii reigned from February 12, 1874 through January 20, 1891. The “Merrie Monarch” was known for throwing big parties for the […]

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