Princess Kaiulani in U.S. Mainland Newspapers

Barbarian Princess. That was what the newspapers on the U.S. mainland called Princess Kaiulani in the 1890s.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the press initially portrayed Kaiulani with contempt, calling her “heathen princess,” “Princess Koylani,” and a “half-breed” or “dusky,” although it treated her better than her Aunt, Queen Liliuokalani.

However, when reporters encountered Kaiulani, she impressed them with her grace and eloquency. The princess wore gowns and could speak English, French, and German.

Ironically, a month before calling her a “half-breed,” The Record-Union describes Kaiulani as “tall and slender with a more thoughtful and deliberate air than might be expected in a school girl. She is a brunette with eyes of hazel and features that suggest just a suspicion of Kanaka origin.

The Morning Call says Kaiulani is “a tall, beautiful young woman of sweet face and slender figure. She has the soft brown eyes and the dark complexion that mark the Hawaiian beauty

The San Francisco Call describes the princess as “tall, willowy and very fair, with big, wistful eyes. … She is a handsome, tall girl, slender and is less dark than many Spaniards.”

The Herald reports in London, Kaiulani was treated with “the same formality as a reigning princess is treated. She has grown to be a tall, fine looking girl, and has been busy since her arrival from the continent sight-seeing and receiving visits.”

The Morning Times says Kaiulani is “now a beautiful woman, twenty-one year of ago, and although no longer considered a princess by the provisional government, is much admired in [Mentone, France], where she now is, to which attention her evident beauty, accomplishments and romantic history entitle her.”

The New-York Tribune describes Kaiulani as having a “pleasing personality” and making a favorable impression to everyone she met: “She is several shades lighter than her royal aunt, her features are more regular, and in her looks and bearing the Caucasian strain has left a refining trace. … [The] report received from the various places where she has been stopping show that she was as popular with Europeans as with the few Americans who made her acquaintance.”

The San Francisco Call’s profile on Kaiulani says, “And she is beautiful. … Of all her portraits there is none that does justice to her expressive, small, proud face. She is exquisitely slender and graceful, quite tall and holds herself like a … Princess and … Hawaiian. I know no simile more descriptive of grace and dignity than this last.”

Another profile by the same newspaper says she was “reared to be a queen. She has the grand air, a small, proud head, fine direct eyes under sensitive, snaky, brilliantly black brows, a little haughty nose, a little bitter-sweet mouth, a crisp English accent, a manner distantly gracious, the bearing of a woman born and educated to a sense of superiority.”

– Alice Kim

Articles on Chronicling America

“In a Nutshell”
The record-union, March 3, 1893, Page 2

“Hawaiian Question: Princess Kaiulani to Make a Personal Appeal to Cleveland: Considerable Opposition to Annexation”
The record-union, February 23, 1893, Image 1

“Her Only Plaint: Kaiulani Wants but Her Crown”
The morning call, March 2, 1893, Image 1a

“Kaiulani Visits London: The Hawaiian Princess Is Treated with Honor”
The herald, October 9, 1895, Page 2

“Princess Kaiulani Coming: The Pleasing Personality of Ex-Queen Queen Liliuokalani’s Niece”
New-York tribune, September 12, 1897, Page 19, Image 43

“The Flower of Hawaii”
The San Francisco call, October 31, 1897, Page 29

“The Princess Who Wanted to Be Queen”
The San Francisco call, August 7, 1898, Image 17


2 Comments on “Princess Kaiulani in U.S. Mainland Newspapers”

  1. […] As Princess Kaiulani’s guardian, Theo accompanied the kingdom’s heir apparent when she studied in England for four years and traveled around the United States. During the latter after the Hawaiian Monarchy’s overthrow, Theo watched Kaiulani deliver impassioned speeches about her people losing their monarchy and disprove her reputation as the “Barbarian Princess.” […]

  2. […] the house is gone today, the location still honors Princess Kaiulani with the stone bench she sat on with writer Robert Louis Stevenson, a small triangular park, a […]

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