As many probably know, 'Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in existence in the United States. It served briefly as the seat of the Hawaiian Kingdom during the late 19th century until the monarchy was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1893. However, Queen Liliuokalani's removal and later abdication did not end the importance of the palace. It was just the beginning.
The official 'Iolani Palace site notes, "A Hawaiian national treasure and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, `Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs--King Kalakaua, who built the Palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili`uokalani. During the monarchy period, the Palace was the center of social and political activity in the Kingdom of Hawai`i. "
After the fall of the monarchy, both the Provisional Government of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii used 'Iolani Palace as their capitol building. After sovereignty of Hawaii was transferred to the United States in 1898, the palace served as the capitol building of the Territory of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii. It also served as the headquarters of the Military Governor of Hawaii during World War Two. Many of the counteroffensives against the Japanese were planned within the walls of the palace.
Here is the official use of 'Iolani Palace during the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries:
1882-1893: Home of the monarchy of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
1893-1894: Capitol building of the Provisional Government of Hawaii
1894-1898: Capitol building of the Republic of Hawaii
1898-1959: Capitol building of the Territory of Hawaii (military government 1941-1944)
1959-1969: Capitol building of the State of Hawaii
1969 to present: Museum under the auspices of the The Friends of `Iolani Palace
As can be seen above, 'Iolani Palace only served a royal palace for a brief period shortly after it was built. However, it has served as a capitol building for the majority of time it has existed. Not surprisingly, a home built for the Hawaiian royal family did not always function the best as a seat of government with a bicameral legislature and a governor. The palace was damaged badly throughout the early and middle 20th century. After a new seat for the Hawaiian government was built, 'Iolani Palace was vacated and the process of restoration was begun. It currently has been repaired and reconstructed to look as it did briefly under the Hawaiian Kingdom.
'Iolani Palace also has been featured in fiction. The TV series Hawaii Five-O had the state police headquarters here. I am also a fan of alternative history. As such, I have liked many of the Harry Turtledove books. In Days of Infamy and End of the Beginning, Turtledove has the Japanese puppet government of Hawaii that replaced an alternate world Hawaiian Kingdom in the palace.
I have only been to Hawaii once. However, that trip has convinced me that I will be visiting multiple times in the future. Next time, I am getting a tour and going inside this palace! My next post about my Hawaiian visit will be on Diamond Head Crater and my hike up to the top.