Episode 057 – Queen Emma’s Story

Hawaii Posts
Hawaii Posts
Episode 057 - Queen Emma's Story
Queen Emma of Hawaii 1880
Photo: Public Domain

Queen Emma’s Story – written by Tom e Stokes

She was born on January 2, 1836, and married Prince Alexander Liholiho also known as King Kamehameha IV in 1856. At that time she became Queen Consort when her husband ascended to the throne as King. She was Queen Emma of Hawaii, whose name was Emma Kaleleonālani (KA-LE-LE-O-LANI) Rooke, was a prominent figure in Hawaiian history. This is her story

I’m Tom e Stokes and your listening to Hawaii Posts

1. Introduction: Just after New Years Day, 1836 on January 2, Emma was born in Honolulu Her father was High Chief George Naʻea and her mother was High Chiefess Fanny Kekelaokalani Young. She was adopted under the Hawaiian tradition of hānai by her childless maternal aunt, chiefess Grace Kamaʻikuʻi Young Rooke. On her mother’s side Emma was the grand Daughter of John young who was born in England and was the military Advisor to King Kamehameha 1st. How a British born man became the military advisor for King Kamehameha is another tale and helps reveal the true history of European influence in the Hawaiian Kingdom and the islands as a whole.

2. Early Life and Background: Returning to the story of Queen Emma, who’s full name at birth was Emma Kalanikaumakaʻamano Kaleleonālani Naʻea Rooke. Becasue of her ansestry having European blood she would be considered Hapa, which in Hawaiian means half, used in this case as Half Hawaiian half English. In modern times it more commonly applied to half asian half caucasian but its roots are in the Hawaiian word for, Half. This would later lead to controversy in her life as Queen Consort.

Emma, grew up in her adoptive parents’ English mansion, the Rooke House, in Honolulu. In 1836, Honolulu wasn’t really a city; it was just a large village with only one main street, King Street, and less than 6,000 people – about 500 were white foreigners. It was a major port for whaling ships, and as one writer put it, one of the most “unattractive” places in the world. She was educated at an American Missionary school known as Royal school. Among her class mates and alumni of the Royal school were Bernice Pauahi Bishop, David Kalākaua and Lydia Liliʻuokalani. Eventually the Royal School was closed and she received additional education by The governors daughter Sarah Rhodes who was hired by Dr. Rooke, Emma’s father. Her continued education influenced her interest in reading and writing. She became an accomplished pianist, vocalist, dancer and a skilled equestrian.

3. Marriage and Role as Queen Consort: In her late teens Emma-Lani as her family and friends called her, was a slender young woman standing 5’2” with long black hair and large brown eyes. By the age of 20 she was already engaged to Alexander Liholiho. In 1855 King Kamehameha III who was Alexanders adoptive father, passed away in 1855. This left the throne open to be filled by Alexander Liholiho who was then dubbed Kamehameha the 4th. When King Kamehmeha the 4th announced that he was going to marry Emmalani who was 20 years old in 1855 there was a Hawaiian outcry claiming that Emma being of English lineage, she was unfit to rule as Queen of the Hawaiian people. Angry and distraught she found herself in tears because of her love for the Hawaiian people but the fear of being seen as not pure Hawaiian. One year later she was married to King Kamehmeha the 4th. There were celebration balls by English, Hawaiian and even the Chinese. Celebrating the new King and Queen Consort. To be a Queen Consort means to be the wife of the king who shares the spouce’s social rank and status.

4. Controversies and Challenges: Prior to her marriage there existed the American Annexation movement from 1853-54 which was encouraged by American Missionaries which caused Kmehmeha the 3rd, great concern and made him intent to ensure the independence of Hawaiian Kingdom. Queen Emma’s Husband King Kamehameha the 4th continued the mission to secure the sovernty of the Hawaiian Kingdom. To counter the power of the influence of the puritanical American Missionaries and the business men of the United States whom were referred to as yankees, he removed all Americans from their posts in his cabinet and established a relationship with the Church of England. At the time the King of hawaii petitioned the Church of England to help establish Church of Hawaii
Queen Emma supported her husbands causes and ambitions while tending to palace affairs. Because of her love for books and understanding the importance of literacy she spearheaded the expansion of the palace library. During this time she Became pregnant in late 1857 and eventually gave birth to young Prince Albert Edward Kamehameha on May 20th 1858. She loved he son called him Baby. Although she was a doting mother she continued her work as a Queen, Diplomat, entertainer of foreign emissaries, a musical entertainer and a visionary.

5. The Establishment of Queen’s Hospital: Queen Emma was known for her humanitarian efforts. In the mid- 1850’s there were foreign born illnesses that ravaged the Native Hawaiians who had little to no immwunity to these diseases, such as small pox. With the Native Hawaiian population in steep decline, Queen Emma was inspired by her father, Dr. Rooke, to care for the Hawaiian people’s health. With the support of her King, her husband Kamehameha the 4th she established the Queens Hospital in 1859 to provide free health care for Hawaiians and part Hawaiians.

There were several reasons behind her decision to establish this hospital:

A. Healthcare Deficiency: During the 19th century, Hawaii faced significant health challenges, including outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox and cholera. The existing medical facilities were limited and inadequate to address the healthcare needs of the Hawaiian people. Queen Emma recognized the urgent need for a modern and well-equipped hospital.

B. Humanitarian Concerns: Queen Emma had a deep concern for the health and well-being of her subjects. She was known for her philanthropic efforts and compassion for those who were suffering. Establishing a hospital was a way for her to directly address the healthcare needs of the Hawaiian people and provide them with access to quality medical care.

C. Legacy and Memorial: The Queen’s Hospital was founded in memory of her late husband, King Kamehameha IV, and their young son, Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha, who had tragically passed away at a young age. Queen Emma saw the hospital as a fitting and lasting tribute to their memory, reflecting her commitment to the welfare of her people.

D. Promoting Western Medicine: Queen Emma recognized the value of Western medicine and sought to integrate it into Hawaiian society alongside traditional Hawaiian healing practices. The establishment of Queen’s Hospital represented a significant step in modernizing healthcare in Hawaii and improving medical services for its residents.

Queen’s Hospital, later renamed The Queen’s Medical Center, has since played a vital role in providing healthcare services to the people of Hawaii and has grown to become one of the state’s largest and most respected medical institutions. It stands as a testament to Queen Emma’s enduring legacy and her dedication to the well-being of the Hawaiian people.

6. Queens Diplomacy: In 1860, Keeping Busy, Queen Emma, 24 years old, the mother of Prince Albert now 2 years old and her husband Kamehameha aged 26. This young family woman carried on her role of being a mother and a Queen. The King and Queen welcomed a group of Japanese diplomats that were traveling from Japan to Washington DC, who had stopped by Hawaii to pay homage to the Royal family of Hawaii. It had been 6 years since the Opening of Japan in 1854. Which symbolized the efinal years Edo period and the end of isolationist Tokugawa Shogunate. This transition ushered in the Meiji empire which modernized the Japanese government and way of life opening Japan to outer influences from the dutch and Americans. For these Japanese diplomats visiting Hawaii it was their first time meeting and bowing to a queen. Forthem it was quite a sight to see a Queen who was adorn in western and English style dress, called the crinoline or otherwise know as petticoat. A petticoat dress was a forma style of tree with rings or hoops beneath the fabric to hold it out in bell like form, made of cotton and crin which was horse hair. This coin provided the stiff structure. Crin is still used to this day in stiffening tape for women’s and mens fashion.

7. Queens involvement in performing arts: More than a fashionable diplomat she was a musician and entertainer who loved the performing arts, such as theater and opera. In 1861 she performed on stage while he husband the King acted as the stage manager. She sang in a chorus of the Verdi’s Opera il Trovatore (The Troubadour) by Italian Giuseppe Verdi, mostly written by Salvador Cammarano.
Stageagent.com has a synopsis,

A story of witchcraft, murder, and vengeance, the plot to Il Trovatore begins in the acts of the parents. A mother is burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft, and avenged by her daughter when she throws the child of her executioner into the fire. The child’s father seeks vengeance for the act and forces his surviving son to devote his life to avenging his brother’s death. The story of how the gypsy died haunts every character of the opera. Once grown, Count di Luna is possessed by his need to avenge the death of his brother. Ferrando, the captain of di Luna’s guard uses the story to keep the men on their guard. Azucena sees the event repeating in every waking moment, in the flicker of the fire, and in the shape of shadows. But only she knows the truth. Possessed by a dark force in that moment, the child she threw into the flame was her own. She raises Count di Luna’s brother as her own child, calling him Manrico. Constantly haunted by her mother’s dying words ‘mi vendica’ (avenge me), Azucena sets in motion a series of events which lead to Manrico’s death.
Leonora finds herself in the middle of this cross-generational family feud. She has fallen in love with a mysterious troubadour who sings of his love at her window, and so rejects the advances of Count di Luna. Manrico and di Luna are destined to oppose each other, first as leaders of opposing factions in the war, and now in the pursuit of Leonora’s heart. Not until the final blow is struck and Manrico dies at di Luna’s order does Azucena reveal that his rival was his brother. Her mother is avenged.
Verdi’s Il Trovatore has some of the most rousing choruses and arias in any of his operas, a plot to rival Game of Thrones, and four very demanding lead roles calling for exceptional singers. It is truly a masterpiece which will enjoy its popularity within the operatic canon for years to come – Stageagent.com

8. The Death of her Husband and Son: Perhaps there is irony or catharsis in the queens participation in the opera which features the death of a baby because one year later Queen Emma’s baby dies in 1862. And as in the play the father dies too and so does Queen Emmas beloved husband King Kamehameha the 4th, November 30th 1863.

Before his death in October 1862 the Church of England did indeed help establish an Anglican Church, as the foundation of The Church of Hawaii. Both the King and Queen were baptized in the church and confirmed in November of that year. There is a tradition that carries on today called the Feast of Holy Sovereigns annually celebrated in the Episcopal church honoring the late King and Queen baptism and establishment of the Church of Hawaii

After the Death of both her only son and husband. Kamehmeha IV’s brother Lot assumed the Throne as Kamehameha V. He was more strict and opposed the constitution and authored his own new constitution in 1864. His story is could be told in another episode but in brief he ushered in migrant laborer from Japan in 1868. He was larger than life and in life he was growing larger with obesity, which confined him to his palace. It was reported that he weighed about 375 pounds or 170 KG. Never married which meant he never produced an heir to the throne. The Kamehameha dynasty ended with his death, on his birthday, December 11, 1872. He was 42 years old. He was succeeded by King Lunalilo

9. Queen Emma’s world tour: Queen Emma spent 2 years traveling after the death of her husband king Kamehameha IV. She traveled to the United States and England, then stayed in the French Riviera, later toured the south lands of Germany and North Italy and then to Paris. After her European tour she returned England only to sail to Ireland. During her travels in Europe she met with Emperor Napoleon II and Empress Eugenie of France and other royals and foreign dignitaries . She also met with Anglican Church clergy. Much of her mission while on her world tour was to help the growing Anglican Mission in Hawaii. While in England she met with Queen Victoria. They immediately bonded with shared experience of love and loss as royalty. They both lost their husbands and sons. Queen Emma was invited to stay at Windsor Castle on November 27

Queen Victoria wrote in her journal about her visit with Queen Emma:
After luncheon I received Queen Emma, the widowed Queen of the Sandwich Islands or Hawaii. Met her in the Corridor & nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner. She is dark, but not more so than an Indian, with fine feathers [features?] & splendid soft eyes. She was dressed in just the same widow’s weeds as I wear. I took her into the White Drawing room, where I asked to sit down next to me on the sofa. She was moved when I spoke to her of her great misfortune in losing her only child. She was very discreet & would only remain a few minutes.

The two Queens Emma and Victoria continued their friendship over the years via correspondence through letters. their interactions reflected the diplomatic and political relationships of the time. Queen Emma’s efforts to gain international support for the Hawaiian monarchy led her to correspond with various world leaders, including Queen Victoria, as she sought to protect and preserve the sovereignty of Hawaii in the face of increasing foreign influence.

After Leaving England Queen Emma traveled to the United States where she was given a warm reception at the White House by President Andrew Johnson and the First Lady on August 14, 1866. It is said that Emma was the first Queen to visit the White House. Interested in Native Americans story and plight she met with several chiefs and delegations. Choctaw Chief Peter Pitchlynn and delegations from the Cherokee and Chickasaw.

While in the United Stated sad news reached Queen, her adoptive mother or in the Hawaiian tradition it was called Hanai mother Grace had died in Hawaii on July 26. Queen Emma cut he tour of the U.S. short and returned to Hawaii, via Ship. She sailed to Panama from New York. Then sailed up the North American cost to California where she boarded the Uss. Vanderbilt which returned her to he home in the island, Honolulu.

10. St. Andrews Priory Girls School: In 1867 while not the reigning Queen. Emma’s influence remained. She established Hawaii’s first girls school. The queen realized the same education provided for boys was not made available for the girls, so she commissioned Saint Andrews Priory. Which still stands today just a block away from the Queens palace which at the time was called Hale Ali’i but more commonly known today as Iolani palace. The Ali’i Hale’s name was change to Iolani palace by King Kamehameha the fifth in honor of his brother Kamehameha the 3rd name which was Alexander Liholiho Keawenui ‘Iolani.

11. Royal Election: After King Kamehameha V’s death, King Lunalilo only ruled for 2 years before his death. There ensued a heated rivalry for the election of Hawaii next Royal. David Kalakaua quickly claimed that he was the best candidate for the the throne. While Queen Emma calmed that King Lunalilo wanted her to succeed him, but no formal proclamation was made. This marked the beginning of the animosity between the House of the Kamehmeha and the House of the Kalakaua. David Kalakaua published his proclamation to the throne

To the Hawaiian Nation.

Salutations to You—Whereas His Majesty Lunalilo departed this life at the hour of nine o’clock last night; and by his death the Throne of Hawaii is left vacant, and the nation is without a head or a guide. In this juncture it is proper that we should seek for a Sovereign and Leader, and doing so, follow the course prescribed by Article 22nd of the Constitution. My earnest desire is for the perpetuity of the Crown and the permanent independence of the government and people of Hawaii, on the basis of the equity, liberty, prosperity, progress and protection of the whole people.
It will be remembered that at the time of the election of the late lamented Sovereign, I put forward my own claim to the Throne of our beloved country, on Constitutional grounds — and it is upon those grounds only that I now prefer my claims, and call upon you to listen to my call, and request you to instruct your Representatives to consider, and weigh well, and to regard your choice to elect me, the oldest member of a family high in rank in the country.
Therefore, I, David Kalakaua, cheerfully call upon you, and respectfully ask you to grant me your support.
Iolani Palace, Feb. 4, 1874.

Not to be out-done the next day Queen Emma issued her proclamation to the throne.

To the Hawaiian People:
Whereas, His late lamented Majesty Lunalilo died on the 3rd of February, 1874, without having publicly proclaimed a Successor to the Throne; and whereas, “His late Majesty did before his final sickness declare his wish and intention that the undersigned should be his Successor on the Throne of the Hawaiian Islands, and enjoined upon me not to decline the same under any circumstances; and whereas. “Many of the Hawaiian people have since the death of His Majesty urged me to place myself in nomination at the ensuing session of the Legislature; “Therefore, in view of the foregoing considerations and my duty to the people and to the memory of the late King, I do hereby announce and declare that I am a Candidate for the Throne of these Hawaiian Islands, and I request my beloved people throughout the group, to assemble peacefully ad orderly in their districts, and to give formal expression to their views on this important subject, and to instruct their Representatives in the coming session of the Legislature.
God Protect Hawaii!
Honolulu, Feb. 5, 1874.

The Hawaiian people agreed with Queen Emma and recognized her relationship to the Kamehameha dynasty and how she was closely related to King Kamehameha I . While Kalakaua had no connection to the Kamehameha dynasty. Queen Emma was pro Hawaii and Pro British. Queen Emma was adamant that Hawaii has its independence from America and less legislative influence from the Amerians. At the time American industries such as Dole Pinapples established in 1851 Castle and Cook a sugar and logistics company as well as Sinclair’s Gay & Robinson sugar plantations had been well established. These were supported by American missionaries and American businesses and legal minds, including legislators judges and socialites. Kalakaua was both pro Hawaiian and British he was more favorable to American causes and industry.

The legislative assembly were more in favor of David Kalakaua. Despite the Queens popularity among the Hawaiians the Legislative voted 39-6 to elect David Kalakaua as the new King of Hawaii. He and his wife Queen Kapiolani took the royal throne at Iolani palace.

The news of Queen Emmas defeat didn’t sit well with the people of hawaii. A violent riot ensued which ultimately led to many injured and even one death. Eventually it had to be quelled by both British and American soldiers who were given permission to intervene by the newly elected King. Many of the rioters were arrested and their fates were left to the mercy of the soon to be know as Merry Monarch, King David Kalakaua

12. Queen’s last years: Defeated the Queen Emma withdrew from public and rarely attended royal events. Although as King Kalakaua left a seat open for her at all events, there appeared to be a rift if not between the new King and former Queen but more-so between Queen Emma and Queen Kapiolani, whom never spoke to each other after the elections. Queen Emma spent most of her time in her summer palace located along the eastern ridge line of Nu’uanu Valley. It is said that she understood the importance of Hawaiian rule and offered her respect to the new king and told her subordinates to do the same. In April of 1881 as a gesture of respect Queen Emma penned a musical tribute to King Kalakaua
**He Inoa No Ka Mo’i Kalakaua:** This song was composed in honor of King Kalākaua, who succeeded King Lunalilo, King Kamehameha V and her husband, King Kamehameha IV, to the Hawaiian throne. It expresses admiration and loyalty to the new monarch.
In a late 20th century revision of the song Here is
Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu
Singing: “He Mele Inoa O Kalakaua”

In 1883 at the age of 47 Queen Emma suffered small strokes leading to her decline in health and she eventually died at the age of 49 on April 25 1885. Known for the challenges and controversies that occurred throughout her life controversy followed her in her death. Her body was laid in state at the Alexander Cartwright house but due to her popularity and the number of mourners she was moved to the Kawaiaha’o church which was not an Anglican Church. The church Queen Emma spent her adult life championing. Queen Liliuokalani said since Queen Emma was Anglican and the Kawaiahao church was episcopal it was disrespectful to have her lay in state with in the church. Later she was given a Royal Procession and her body was interred at the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii, also know as Mauna Ala, there she was laid to rest in peace next to her husband King Kamehameha the 4th and her son Prince Albert.

13. Conclusion: Today there is an annual festival called The Emmalani Festival, Eo E Emalani I Alkaka’i held in Kauai marking the anniversary of her visit there in October of 1871

Despite the controversies and challenges she faced during her lifetime, Queen Emma is remembered as a beloved and influential figure in Hawaiian history, known for her dedication to the well-being of the Hawaiian people and her efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of the islands.

There you have it the story of Queen Emma

14. Prologue: I am not a historian and never really fancy myself as a writer but when I visited her summer palace and saw her memorial at the royal Mausoleum as mentioned in episode 55. I was inspired to learn more. I thought about writing a short story but the more I learned the more I wanted to share with you the story of Queen Emma. She could be called the Hapa queen as she was the first to queen to be of mixed ancestry. But obviously, she was more than that, and I don’t like to put people in boxes of race having learned so much about the history of humans on this earth. It’s really hard to say what is pure racial identity I think what makes a person is how person lives I’ve said it before your legacy is really kept among your own ancestors very rare people remembered for history outside of their own family. Yes, there are famous people such as the queen, but it’s how we interact with our families, and those that are around us, and how we can help and be a positive influence in peoples lives, queen, Emma was a a daughter, a mother, a wife, a humanitarian, a philanthropist, a promoter of religion and education an entertainer and a lover of the arts she cared for the people who she was entrusted to rule over despite the controversy of what her bloodline was she still had an undying love for her people, and a great curiosity, other people, and where her roots came from.

I use several sources for this biography of sorts from Wikipedia, Britannica Encyclopedia Britannica, StageAgent.com, TraditionalMusic.co.UK, ImagesOfOldHawaii.com newspaper clippings of Ka Elelele Poakolu In fact, it was from this newspaper clipping that I found a poem for He Inoa No Kalakaua and it appears to be submitted by Mrs Kaleihiwahiwa. But I had other sources that says that queen ema had written the song. I liked it so much I just had to include it. But there may be a chance I may have mistaken the songwriter. Please forgive me.

When I offer tours around the island, I try to tell great stories about the history of Hawaii, and in doing the research for this, I realize that some of my stories had errors and inconsistencies. I like to tell the story of how these islands were discovered the first inhabitants, how the ancestors of Kamehameha arrived and concoured the Islands. I know that modern history likes refer to King Kamehameha as uniter of the islands. And that may be so. But like I said, even as I was writing this, I was learning more about Hawaii, and changing my perspective on the history of Hawaii, and how these islands became known as the sandwich islands. The Hawaiian islands, the state of Hawaii. Once again, I am not a historian nor an academic, but I do my best.

I hope you enjoyed it. Like I said, I didn’t expect to write such a long biography, but it really just felt right. But I rather enjoyed it. If you have any comments, any thoughts, I welcome your emails. Please keep it kind not a academic I do make mistakes and I may have some good dates wrong. I did my best to research what I had and make sure that I didn’t rely upon just one source. Let me know if you want me to do more of these stories of Hawaiian history.

Go to my website and find the contact and support link and you’ll be able to find an email address where you can email me with your thoughts. The background music is by Jerry Bird, Ozzie Kotani, miley, Serenaders and the Kalima Hawaiians

Thank you for taking the time to listen to the story of Queen Emma. There are more episodes to come so stay tune and stay stoked and the only podcast that loves you back because I start and end every show with a warm aloha
And with that I bid you farewell, aloha – awright


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