Public viewing at palace for 'last Hawaiian princess'

HONOLULU (AP) — The casket bearing the 96-year-old heiress long considered the last Hawaiian princess is set to go on public display Sunday in the downtown Honolulu palace that

benefited from her wealth. Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa's casket, handcrafted from a 165-year-old koa tree that fell during a 2021 storm on the Big Island, was

scheduled to arrive at ʻIolani Palace in a hearse and be carried by members of a law enforcement honor guard up the palace's front stairs and into the throne room. The

palace is America’s only royal residence, where the Hawaiian monarchy dwelled but now serves mostly as a museum. Kawānanakoa was the palace’s largest single benefactor, according

to her publicists, and even paid its electricity bills for many years. Members of the public were allowed to line up to view her casket and weren't required to wear the

shoe coverings that palace visitors normally have to wear as a preservation precaution. A carpet for mourners to walk on was temporarily installed for the viewing. The

viewing was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. Kawānanakoa died at her home in Nuuanu, near downtown Honolulu on Dec. 11. She died “peacefully” with her wife, Veronica Gail

Kawānanakoa, 70, at her side, according to a news release. “Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people,” her wife said in the release, “and I will miss

her with all of my heart.” Kawānanakoa held no formal title but was considered a princess because her lineage included the royal family that once ruled the Hawaiian islands.

She was a reminder of Hawaii’s monarchy and a symbol of its national identity that endured after the kingdom was overthrown by American businessmen in 1893.