Queen Emma of Hawaii

Queen Emma of Hawaii bigraphy, stories - Queen consort of King Kamehameha IV from 1856 to his death in 1863

Queen Emma of Hawaii : biography

January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885

Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonālani Naea Rooke of Hawaii (January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885) was queen consort of King Kamehameha IV from 1856 to his death in 1863. She ran for ruling monarch against King Kalākaua but was defeated.


Early life

Emma was born on January 2, 1836 in Honolulu and was often called Emalani ("royal Emma"). Her father was High Chief George Naea 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 Kamaikui Young Rooke, and her husband, Dr. Thomas C. B. Rooke.

Emma’s father Naea was the son of High Chief Kamaunu and High Chiefess Kukaeleiki. Kukaeleiki was daughter of Kalauawa, a Kauai noble, and she was a cousin of Queen Keōpūolani, the most sacred wife of Kamehameha I. Among Naea’s more notable ancestors were Kalanawaa, a high chief of Oahu, and High Chiefess Kuaenaokalani, who held the sacred kapu rank of Kekapupoohoolewaikala (so sacred that she could not be exposed to the sun except at dawn).

On her mother’s side, Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, Kamehameha I’s British-born military advisor known as High Chief Olohana, and Princess Kaōanaeha Kuamoo. Her maternal grandmother, Kaōanaeha, was generally called the niece of Kamehameha I. Chiefess Kaōanaeha’s father is disputed; some say she was the daughter of Prince Keliimaikai, the only full brother of Kamehameha; others state Kaōanaeha’s father was High Chief Kalaipaihala. This confusion is due to the fact that High Chiefess Kalikookalani, the mother of Kaōanaeha, married both to Keliimaikai and to Kalaipaihala. Through High Chief Kalaipaihala, she could be descended from Kalaniopuu, King of Hawaii before Kīwalaʻō and Kamehameha. King Kalākaua and Queen Liliuokalani criticized Queen Emma’s claim of descent from Kamehameha’s brother, supporting the latter theory of descent. Liliuokalani claimed that Keliimaikai had no children, and that Kiilaweau, Keliimaikai’s first wife, was a man. This was to strengthen their claim to the throne, since their great-grandfather was Kamehameha I’s first cousin. But even through the second theory Queen Emma would still have been descendant of Kamehameha I’s first cousin since Kalaniopuu was the uncle of Kamehameha I. It can be noted that one historian of the time, Samuel Kamakau, supported Queen Emma’s descent from Keliimaikai and the genealogy stated by Liliuokalani have been contested in her own lifetime.

Emma grew up at her foster parents’ English mansion, the Rooke House, in Honolulu. Emma was educated at the Royal School, which was established by American missionaries. Other Hawaiian royals attending the school included Emma’s half-sister Mary Paaāina. Like her classmates Bernice Pauahi Bishop, David Kalākaua and Lydia Liliuokalani, Emma was cross-cultural — both Hawaiian and Euro-American in her habits. But she often found herself at odds with her peers. Unlike many of them, she was neither romantic nor prone to hyperbole. When the school closed, Dr. Rooke hired an English governess, Sarah Rhodes von Pfister, to tutor the young Emma. He also encouraged reading from his extensive library. As a writer, he influenced Emma’s interest in reading and books. By the time she was 20, she was an accomplished young woman. She was 5′ 2" and slender, with large black eyes. Her musical talents as a vocalist, pianist and dancer were well known. She was also a skilled equestrian.

Married life and reign

Emma became engaged to the king of Hawaii, Alexander Liholiho. At the engagement party, a Hawaiian charged that Emma’s Caucasian blood made her unfit to be the Hawaiian queen and her lineage was not suitable enough to be Alexander Liholiho’s bride; she broke into tears and the king was infuriated. On June 19, 1856, she married Alexander Liholiho, who a year earlier had assumed the throne as Kamehameha IV. He was also fluent in both Hawaiian and English. Each nation and even the Chinese hosted balls and celebrations in honor of the newlyweds. Two years later on May 20, 1858 Emma gave birth to a son, Prince Albert Edward Kamehameha.