This is Princess Lili’uokalani. She would become the last sovereign ruler of Hawaii. The photo was taken in 1853 when she was only 15 years old.
In 1874, Lili’uokalani’s brother, David Kalakaua became king, and a few years later, she was named the heir apparent. She spent the next few years building schools for the people of Hawaii.
In 1881, Liliuokalani served as regent while the king was away on his tour of the world. When a smallpox epidemic broke out on the island of Oahu, she made the quick decision to close down all its ports, which helped to contain the spread and ended up saving many lives. However, her decision irked many of the wealthy sugarcane plantation owners.
In 1891, her brother died, and she became the ruler of Hawaii. Unfortunately, her reign would be very short-lived as a coup led by Sanford Dole (his cousin founded the Dole Food Company) and several other businessmen and lawyers with the backing of the United States would annex the islands. Two years later, when Lill’uokalani and her supporters attempted to return to power, she was charged with treason and forced to go under house arrest. In order to pardon her supporters, she agreed to yield her power to the United States.
“Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.”
After her release from house arrest, Lili’uokalani remained a revered figure in Hawaii. She continued to be involved in community work, focusing on the welfare of her people, particularly the education and care of Hawaiian children. She established the Liliʻuokalani Trust to provide for the care of orphaned and destitute children in Hawaii, which continues to operate today.
She spent the remainder of her life in exile until her death in 1917 at age 79.