Iolani Palace was once the home of the Hawaiian Royal Family. The atmosphere around the palace on the day I visited was very festive. Bands played in the park. Colourful paper lanterns were strung from the trees.
Hawaiian Royal Family
King Kalākaua built Iolani Palace in 1882. The palace was home to the king, his wife Queen Kapiʻolani, and younger sister Queen Liliʻuokalani.
Queen Liliʻuokalani was crowned as ruler of Hawaii after her brother passed away in 1891. Her reign was a short one.
Inspiration for Iolani Palace
King Kalākaua was the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe. Inspired by what he had seen in the royal courts of Europe he set out to emulate the grandeur of the European Palaces.
The king ordered the finest fittings and furnishings from around the world to adorn his opulent home.
No expense was spared. The latest technology including electric lighting and a telephone were installed.
The Pavilion used in the Coronation ceremony was designed by artists Buchman & Rupprecht. The wooden structure was linked by a platform to the palace steps. It was moved to its present location after the celebrations ended.
The domed roof of the pavilion is surrounded with shields. The shields represent Russia, Netherlands, United States, Hawaii, Germany and Austria. The domed cupola is the only surviving feature of the original pavilion.
White ants ate away the wooden components. The pavilion was restored in 1919.
The pavilion sits on the lawn next to palace. Shields gleaming with fresh paint. Its interior completely deserted. Access to the pavilion is strictly off-limits to the public.
The Coronation Pavilion still plays a key role in state politics. The pavilion is used for ceremonies to proclaim the Governor of Hawaii.
Kalākaua became the King of Hawaii in 1874. His formal coronation did not take place until 9 years later.
The royal crowns used for King Kalākaua’s coronation are made in England.
As no person of suitably high office was present to perform the task, King Kalākaua placed the crown upon his head himself during his coronation ceremony in 1883.
The Queens Quilt
Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown in 1893. The kingdom of Hawaii lost its status as an independent nation. The United States government annexed the kingdom and moved into the palace. The Queen became a prisoner in her own home.
The queen and her companions stitched beautiful crazy quilt during her incarceration. The brocaded silks and ribbons used in the quilt are believed to be from the queen’s wardrobe. In the centre of the quilt are the words “Imprisoned at Iolani Palace … We began the quilt here”.
There are nine panels in the quilt. Each panel has a story to tell.
Queen Liliʻuokalani was a prisoner in the palace for 10 months. She was eventually put on trial. The case was heard in her Throne Room.
Iolani Palace today
The American government sold most of the original furnishings when they took over Iolani Palace. The items on display are curated from private collections around the world.
The inside of the palace is beautifully restored. The fully furnished palace would have been an amazing sight to see. Many of the fine works of art inside the palace were gifts from various Heads of State.
Audio tours are available to guide you through the state rooms and private chambers of the place. Visitors are issued with paper slippers to avoid damaging the floors.
Behind the coral brick walls of the Iolani Barracks sits a ticket office, gift shop and a small museum. The barracks were torn down stone by stone and rebuilt in this location in 1965. The the Hawaiʻi State Capitol building occupies the original site.
A crowd sat on the lawn outside barracks when I arrived at the palace. The Hawaiian Royal Band the focus of their attention.
Share my experience by picturing yourself sitting on the lawn. The barracks behind you and Iolani Palace in front. The sound of wind, sirens and comments from the crowd whisper in the background. Rain drops begin to fall. You stay to listen to the band.
Getting to Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace is short walk from Honolulu Harbour where many of the cruise ships dock.
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