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Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa

Honolulu – Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, the so-called last Hawaiian princess whose lineage included the royal family that once ruled the islands and an Irish businessman who became one of Hawaii’s largest landowners, died on Sunday. She was 96.
Her death was announced Monday morning at Iolani Palace, America’s only royal residence where the Hawaiian monarchy dwelled but now serves mostly as a museum. The announcement came from Paula Akana, executive director of Iolani Palace, and Hailama Farden, of Hale O Na Ali?i O Hawaii, a royal Hawaiian society.
No cause of death was given.
She held no formal title but was a living reminder of Hawaii’s monarchy and a symbol of Hawaiian national identity that endured after the kingdom was overthrown by American businessmen in 1893.
“She was always called princess among Hawaiians because Hawaiians have acknowledged that lineage,” Kimo Alama Keaulana, assistant professor of Hawaiian language and studies at Honolulu Community College, said in a 2018 interview. “Hawaiians hold dear to genealogy. And so genealogically speaking, she is of high royal blood.”
He called her “the last of our alii,” using the Hawaiian word for royalty: “She epitomizes what Hawaiian royalty is – in all its dignity and intelligence and art.”
James Campbell, her great-grandfather, was an Irish businessman who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and one of Hawaii’s largest landowners.
He married Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright. Their daughter, Abigail Campbell Kawananakoa, married Prince David Kawananakoa, who was named an heir to the throne.
After the prince died, his widow adopted young Abigail, which strengthened her claim to a princess title. She acknowledged in an interview with Honolulu Magazine in 2021 that had the monarchy survived, her cousin Edward Kawananakoa would be in line to be the ruler, not her.“
As an only child of an only child, Kawananakoa received more Campbell money than anyone else and amassed a trust valued at about $215 million.
She funded various causes over the years, including scholarships for Native Hawaiian students, opposing Honolulu’s rail transit project, supporting protests against a giant telescope, donating items owned by King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani for public display, including a 14-carat diamond from the king’s pinky ring, and maintaining ?Iolani Palace.
Born in Honolulu, Kawananakoa was educated at Punahou, a prestigious prep school. She also attended an American school in Shanghai and graduated from the all-female Notre Dame High School in Belmont, California, where she was a boarding student.
She was engaged briefly to a man, but most of her long-term relationships were with women.
“She was always curious about what people would do for money,” said Jim Wright, who was her personal attorney since 1998 until she fired him in 2017 during a bitter court battle over control of her trust.
One of her passions was breeding racehorses. She was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018, with the American Quarter Horse Association noting she was the industry’s “all-time leading female breeder at the reins of an operation that has produced the earners of more than $10 million.” One of her horses, A Classic Dash, won $1 million in 1993 in New Mexico’s All-American Futurity.
The battle over control of her trust began when a judge approved Wright as a trustee after she suffered a stroke. She claimed she wasn’t impaired, fired Wright and married Veronica Gail Worth, her partner of 20 years. Court filings in the case alleged the wife physically abused Kawananakoa. Attorneys for the couple disputed the claims.
In 2018, Kawananakoa attempted to amend her trust ensure that her wife would receive $40 million and all her personal property, according to court records. In 2020, a judge ruled that Kawananakoa was unable to manage her property and business affairs because she was impaired.