Princess Victoria Kaiulani, Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu I Lunalilo was born in Honolulu on October 16, 1875. As the daughter of Archibald Scott Cleghorn and Princess Miriam Kapili Kekauluohi Likelike, Princess Victoria Kaiulani was the only child born to the Kalakaua dynasty. She was the second in line to the throne after her aunt, Queen Liliuokalani. All knew her as Kaiulani, which simply meant "The Royal Sacred One".
While growing up in Ainahau, Kaiulani reveled in the privileges of royalty. On her much-loved pony, Fairy, Kaiulani rode through the dusty roads of Waikiki visiting friends and family. The princess adored the several peacocks that inhabited Ainahau and, in return, they adored the young royal. Kaiulani also enjoyed birthday parties and ceremonies and celebrations as she absorbed Hawaiian traditions and culture.
Amidst colorful crowds chanting blessings and farewells, Princess Kaiulani sailed from the Hawaiian Islands at the age of 13, thus beginning her education abroad. During her 8 years studying and traveling in Europe, the United States began its efforts to annex the Hawaiian Islands. In her absence, the Hawaiian monarchy experienced serious turmoil, including a series of revolts and the untimely death of King Kalakaua. Under U.S. pressure, the Hawaiian Islands were annexed on August 12, 1898.
The Princess Returns
Upon returning to Honolulu and heartbroken by the news, Kaiulani sailed to the Big Island to temporarily distance herself from the land and memories of her youth that had changed so dramatically in the time that she was gone. As Kaiulani and a riding party rode through the soft green hills of Waimea, they were suddenly caught in a wind and rainstorm. From her fateful ride through the hills, Kaiulani contracted a rare illness that took her life on Monday, March 6, 1899. She was only 23. It is said that when she died, the peacocks at Ainahau screamed their mourning for their princess. In his writings, Robert Louis Stevenson endearingly recalled that Princess Victoria Kaiulani was "...more beautiful than the fairest flower."