Last 'Hawaiian Princess' Abigail Kāwananakoa Dies at 96, Leaving 'A Legacy Dedicated to Her People'

Hawaiian Princess
Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kāwananakoa in 2009.Getty

Abigail Kāwananakoa, the last "Hawaiian Princess," has died at 96 . She was a longtime philanthropist with a wealth estimated at $215 million.

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa, known as Hawaii's "last princess," has died at age 96. Her passing was announced this week at the Iolani Palace, America’s only royal residence.

She was a noted philanthropist and one of the last living descendants of the royal family that once ruled the islands. She died peacefully at her Nu'uanu home with her wife, Veronica, at her side, according to a the palace statement in Honolulu.

The estate once housed the Hawaiian monarchy but it now functions mostly as a museum.

"Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people," said her wife, Veronica Kawānanakoa. "I will miss her with all of my heart."

She had no formal title, but was considered a symbol of the monarchy and of Hawaii's identity after American and European businessmen overthrew the kingdom in 1893. The U.S. annexed it 1898 as a strategically important Pacific Ocean territory.

Her wealth is estimated at $215 million and was held in trust. James Campbell, her great-grandfather, was a rich Irish businessman who owned a sugar plantation.

Born in 1926, she was adopted at age 5 by her maternal grandmother, Royal Highness Abigail Wahiika'ahu'ula Campbell Kawānanakoa. 

The informal princess made generous donations over the years, funding scholarships for Native Hawaiian students and contributing to the upkeep of Iolani Palace. She also donated royal belongings for public view, including a 14-carat diamond pinky ring worn by King Kalākaua.

Gov. Josh Green ordered the U.S. and Hawaii flags to be lowered to half-staff at state offices in honor of her death. "Hawaii mourns this great loss," he said.

"Jaime and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa," the governor wrote on Facebook. "Abigail bore the weight of her position with dignity and humility (and) enriched the lives of everyone she touched."

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