Kamamalu (c. 1803–1824)

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Kamamalu (c. 1803–1824)

Hawaiian queen who was the wife of Kamehameha II. Born around 1803; died in London, England, on July 8, 1824; daughter of Kamehameha I the Great (1758–1819), king of Hawaii (r. 1810–1819), andKaheiheimalie ; sister ofKinau (c. 1805–1839); as a teenager, married half-brother Liholiho known as Kamehameha II (1797–1824), king of Hawaii (r. 1819–1824); no children.

Born around 1803 and educated by missionaries, Kamamalu married her half-brother Kamehameha II (Liholiho), when she was a teenager. Noted for her intelligence and beauty, the young queen was described as "Amazonian" by the Reverend Hiram Bingham, a member of the first company of missionaries arriving in Hawaii in 1820, "tall and portly, of queenlike air, yet affectionate, filial, courteous, patriotic and friendly to the missionary cause."

Kamamalu, who read and wrote both in English and Hawaiian, was also characterized as "a woman of business," who oversaw the vast collection of gifts brought to the king as taxes, and corresponded daily with missionaries and those chiefs who could read and write. She was known as a gracious host and was particularly solicitous of the queen mother Keopuolani , whom she nursed through her final illness.

On November 27, 1823, the queen accompanied her husband to England aboard the English whaleship L'Aigle. After a stopover in Rio de Janeiro, the royal party arrived in England on May 18, 1824, where they were entertained by King George IV. They were put up in the Caledonian Hotel near Charing Cross and attended service at Westminster Abbey and performances at the Covent Garden and Drury Lane theaters. The trip, however, had a particularly tragic outcome. One of the chiefs in the royal party contracted measles, a disease for which the Hawaiians had no immunity.

Soon, almost all in the party became ill, including Kamamalu and Kamehameha. The young queen died on July 8; the devastated king died a short time later, on July 14. Both laid in state at the hotel before their bodies were removed to a vault in St. Martin's Church. They were taken home aboard the British frigate HMS Blonde, arriving in Honolulu on May 6, 1825. The bodies remained buried on the Iolani Palace grounds until 1867, when they were removed to the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley.


Peterson, Barbara Bennett. Notable Women of Hawaii. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1984.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts