November 18, 1917: The Funeral of Queen Liliʻuokalani
Queen Liliʻuokalani, the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last reigning monarch, passed away on November 11, 1917 and her state funeral was held a week later on November 18. See Waiho o Liliuokalani i ka Moe Mau Loa, Nupepa Kuokoa, (Nov. 23, 1917) (available online). The legal disputes that followed were not resolved until 1923—nearly six years after Lili‘uokalani’s death. See Avis Kuuipoleialoha Poai & Susan Serrano, Aliʻi Trusts: Native Hawaiian Charitable Trusts 1197 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015) (providing legal history for contentious circumstances surrounding the creation of Liliʻuokalani’s estate).
Fulfilling the traditional role of the Hawaiian aliʻi, Liliʻuokalani designed a trust with the well-being of her people in mind. It was her way to continue to serve her people in perpetuity. The trust that she established was for the benefit of orphans and other destitute Hawaiian children. Id. at 1196. Section VII of the Queen’s Deed of Trust, dated December 2, 1909, states in pertinent part:
From and after the death of the Grantor, all of the property of the trust estate, both principal and income, which shall not be required for any of the special provisions or payments in this instrument before mentioned, shall be used by the Trustees for the benefit of orphan children in the Hawaiian Islands, the preference to be given to Hawaiian children of pure or part aboriginal blood.
(See Deed of Trust of Liliuokalani (Dec. 2, 1909), microformed on Liber 319, 447–59 (Hawai‘i Bureau of Conveyances). Sadly, numerous lawsuits were filed challenging this trust. Famously, her own nephew Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole sought to dissolve the deed of trust alleging that the queen had been unduly influenced and manipulated. Id. at 1199. Even after Prince Kūhiō’s protracted lawsuit was settled, others filed complaints, including a person claiming to be Liliʻuokalani’s heir. See In re Estate of Liliuokalani, 25 Haw. 127, 128-29 (1919) (dismissing a claim of inheritance brought by Theresa Owana Wilcox Belliveau on the grounds that she could not establish her genealogical relationship to the queen).
The will was finally admitted to probate in 1923. Id. at 1200. Today, the primary focus of the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust is to assist orphans, children who have lost one or both parents to death, and destitute children, defined as any child in financial, educational, or cultural need. Id. The Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center (QLCC) is the culmination of the trustees’ efforts to establish an institution for the benefit of these Native Hawaiian children.