The Hawaii royal family announced Monday that Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa had passed away on Sunday, December 11 at the age of 96. The public announcement took place at the Iolani Palace, America’s only royal residence, where the Hawaiian monarchy dwelled but now serves as a museum. Kawānanakoa died peacefully in her home with her wife Veronica Gail Kawānanakoa by her side.
“Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people,” Veronica said at the announcement. “And I will miss her with all of my heart.”
One of the last living links to the royal family Abigail Kawānanakoa was born in Honolulu in 1926. The heiress estimated to be worth $215 Million at the time of her death, was the great-grandchild of James Campbell, an Irish businessman who owned a sugar plantation. His daughter married Prince David Kawānanakoa, third in line for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii when the royal family was overthrown by Americans in 1893. After the prince died in 1908, his widow adopted their Abigail in the Hawaiian custom hānai.
Some genealogists felt Princess Kawānanakoa would have been the leading candidate for the throne if it the monarchy had continued, and she was often called the "last princess" of Hawaii. But another branch of the former royal family claims that Princess Owana Ka'ohelelani should be recognized at the head of the remaining dynasty.
In 2021, Abigail acknowledged other claims to the royal line, telling Honolulu Magazine in 2021 that her cousin Edward Kawānanakoa would have been in line ahead of her, based on the rules of succession.
"Of course I would be the power behind the throne, there's no question about that," she joked at the time.
Abigal's philanthropy benefited indigenous Hawaiians and contributed to the preservation of their culture. She founded The Abigail KK Kawananakoa Foundation in 2001, setting aside $100 Million of her estate to support native Hawaiian causes, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.