Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | By: Rudi Butt

Aloha Royale

Updated (partial) on October 17, 2012

King David Kalakaua (b.1836-d.1891), the 7th and last King of Hawaii (reigned 1874-1891), arrived Hong Kong on April 12, 1881 from Shanghai on steamship Thibet. Governor John Pope-Hennessy offered his twelve-oared barge to ferry the King to shore, and extended an invitation for a royal reception in the Government House in the name of Queen Victoria [1]. The usual salute of twenty-one guns were fired from the forts and seven warships anchored in the Victoria Harbor in the following morning. The nine-day visit was filled with receptions and banquets, including those given by Jardine Matheson Taipan, William Keswick, who was also Hawaiian Consul General in Hong Kong. A luncheon was given by property tycoon Paul Chater where the invited guests were the most prominent business personages in the colony.

King Kalakaua, in a straw hat, was seated in the center;
on his left, wearing an Astor top hat, was John Pope-Hennessy
Masonic Brotherhood

China Mail reported on April 14, 1881,
"Last night His Majesty the King Kalakaua, of Hawaii, visited the Victoria Lodge and was received with honors due to his exalted rank and high position in Masonry."
King Kalakaua was a 32nd Degree Mason in the Freemasonry, the title of a 32nd Degree Mason is "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret", under the Scottish Rite Degrees system.

Kitty Pope-Hennessy
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At the last State banquet in Hong Kong, King Kalakaua had become very tired and his doze started to deepen. When asked by Hawaiian Attorney General William Armstrong to aid in preventing a loss of royal dignity, the Governor's wife - Catherine Pope-Hennessy, arranged for the military band in the balcony to play the music of "Hawai'i Pono'i" (the Hawaiian National Anthem). The King woke up and the banquet ended.
On April 21, 1881, the Royal group left Hong Kong on the steamship The Killarney for Bangkok. The King had a good impression of governor Pope-Hennessy and was also thankful for the latter's arrangement with the British government in providing assistance while en route his round-the-world trip [2]. A Grand Cross of Kalakaua was later conferred on Pope-Hennessy.

Grand Cross of Kalakaua

The purpose of King Kalakaua's around the world trip were to study the matter of immigration (the country was facing the calamitous decline of Hawaii's native population, who were being lost to disease) and to improve foreign relations. He also wanted to study how other rulers ruled. The ending of the American Civil War affected the sugar market favorably for Hawaii, and the King is looking for labor supplies for Hawaii's agricultural development, hopefully to replace some of the Chinese labor immigrants already living and working in the country. The Hawaiian government's view on Chinese labor immigrants was that 'Chinese did not bring their women and that it was dangerous to give them franchise because their numbers would be a threat to the Kingdom.' As a result of this trip, the Hawaii was successful in getting a constant stream of labor immigrants from Japan, starting with the first group (676 men, 159 women, and 108 children) that left for Hawaii on February 8, 1885. Although no details were given, it was also reported that William Keswick was able to obtain a good class of Chinese immigrants to be accompanied by wives and children.

Whilst in Shanghai and Tianjin, King Kalakaua was not received as a head of state, but despite the general lack of attention accorded the King, Li Hongzhang 李鴻章 did hold a banquet for him in Tianjin. The King had two purposes wanting to meet with Li: firstly, to stop further immigration of Chinese to Hawaii, and secondly to secure the right at anytime to restrict, return, or remove, the large influx of Chinese. According to later letters written by the King referring to the meeting with Li, he said, “On these two subjects our mission has been successful”.

King Kalakaua died in 1891, seven years later, in 1898, Hawaii was annexed by United States as a US Territory. The Kingdom became the fiftieth state of the American Union in 1959.

[1] The Hong Kong Government Gazette of April 16, 1881, published this announcement:

GOVERNMENT NOTIFICATION— No. 131.
His Majesty the King of HAWAII arrived in Hongkong on Tuesday evening, the 12th instant, and was welcome to the Colony by the Governor, in the name of Her Majesty Queen VICTORIA. His Majesty, the King KALAKAUA, was accompanied by His Excellency W. N. ARMSTRONG, Minister of State, and Colonel JUDD, Chamberlain.
By His Excellency's Command,
FREDERICK STEWART, Acting Colonial Secretary. Colonial Secretary's Office, Hongkong, 16th April, 1881.

[2] Honolulu (January 20, 1881), Sydney, San Franciso, Tokyo (March 4- ), Shanghai, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hong Kong (April 12- 21), Bangkok, Singapore, Penang, Calcutta, Suez, Cairo, Rome, London, Brussels, Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., California, Honolulu (October 29). Around the world in 282 days.

The Monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii (ca.1782-1895)
Kamehameha I b.1758-d.1819; reigned ca.1782–1819; also known as Kamehameha the Great
Kamehameha II born Kalaninui kua Liholiho i ke kapu `Iolani; b.1797-d.1824; reigned 1819-1824;
Kamehameha III born Kauikeaouli; b.1813–d.854); reigned 1824-1854
Kamehameha IV born Alexander `Iolani Liholiho Keawenui; b.1834-d.1863; reigned 1855-1863
Kamehameha V born Lot Kapuaiwa; b.1830-d.1872); reigned 1863-1872
Lunalilo I born William Charles Lunalilo; b.1835-d.1874; reigned 1873-1874
Kalakaua I born David La'amea Kamanakapu'u Mahinulani Nalaiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalakaua; b.1836-d.1891; reigned 1874-1891; because he did not have any children, he was succeeded by his sister Lili'uokalani
Lili'uokalani born Lydia Lili'u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka'eha; b.1838-d.1917; the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii; the Queen was overthrown on Janury 17, 1893 by a group of Americans and Europeans self-styled as a Committee of Safety; Queen Lili'uokalani abdicated in 1895; 3 years later Hawaii became an incorporated territory of the United States

I have this “questionable” recollection of another royal visit to Hong Kong at a time when I was very small: Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. He actually came to my alma mater, Pui Ching Middle School, and I was a part of the welcoming party, lining up at the steps to waive to the king – the first I have ever met. Why questionable? my bother and sister who went to the same school remember nothing of the sort. Am I imagining this? If so, why Selassie and why Ethiopia of all kings and kingdoms in the world? (10/7/2009)

I have checked and can confirmed that Selassie did in fact visit Hong Kong in 1970 before flying off to Osaka to open the Ethiopia Day of the 1970 World Exposition. Did I see him, I leave this to another day... (10/17/2012)

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