When the last monarch of Hawaii exited this mortal coil, thousands of her people paid homage to her. Lydia Liliuokalani, 79, had been the Kingdom of Hawaii’s first queen, succeeding her brother, David Kalakaua, to the throne.

At her funeral service 100 years ago, sorrow filled every corner of the church in Honolulu. Standing sentinel were the dozens of kahili, the feathered, red and yellow standards that are the symbol of Hawaiian royalty. It almost seemed as if the kahili heads were swaying in grief.

“No more treats from this aged queen,” Liliuokalani told her little dog, Poni, according to Jackie Pualani Johnson, whose “Living History” re-enactment of the queen held spellbound a full house Saturday at the 100th anniversary Liliuokalani memorial service at Church of the Holy Apostles in Hilo.

In the eight months of house arrest the queen endured at Iolani Palace, Poni was her faithful companion. After her overthrow, the queen lived as a private citizen at her home in Honolulu, Washington Place, which is next door to the Cathedral of St. Andrew, the mother church for all of Hawaii’s Episcopalians.

Liliuokalani, who died Nov. 11, 1917, became an Episcopalian as an adult. She was a member of St. Andrew’s congregation, and her funeral service was conducted according to Episcopal tradition.

Queen Liliuokalani’s death was remembered at a service in Hilo on Saturday.

Carolyn Ayon Lee

For many Hawaii residents, the queen’s lasting legacy is probably her beautiful hymns, such as “Aloha Oe” and “Ke Aloha A Ke Akua,” or “The Queen’s Prayer,” also known by its opening words, “O Kou Aloha No.”

“As expressed in her music and her life,” the Episcopal Bishop of Hawaii, the Right Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick said Monday, “the queen was speaking truth with love and living with integrity in the face of hardship. She never lost her joy in creation or her trust in God.”

‘We Are All Heirs To The Queen’

Fitzpatrick said what moved him greatly about Liliuokalani was her compassion for others.

“In 1913, the queen actually provided the funds to build the first chapel for the soldiers at Schofield Barracks,” the bishop said. “Imagine, she responded to the spiritual needs of the young soldiers so far from home despite the fact that their government had annexed her nation. It reflects a level of benevolence that I can hardly imagine.”

Fitzpatrick, who presided over Saturday’s memorial service in Hilo, said in an email interview Monday that Liliuokalani is a hero for all of Hawaii.

She spoke truth with love. Such a spirit is needed in these islands now more than ever. — Right Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick

“We are all heirs of the queen,” he said. “She sought justice and, yet, despite injustice, managed to continue with integrity and generosity. She spoke truth with love. Such a spirit is needed in these islands now more than ever.”

Johnson, who through her voice, demeanor and carriage conveyed Liliuokalani’s majesty at the memorial service in Hilo, said: “The queen’s deep wisdom in light of insurmountable challenges stands out as her definitive character trait, wherein she committed herself to ‘onipaa, to remain steadfast and true.”

There are some who criticize the queen’s decision to abdicate, clearing the way for the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

“It seems clear to me, however, that her strong Christian values were at the core of her decisions as she chose a much more rational, diplomatic path,” Johnson said. “The costs were great, but bloodshed was avoided.”

The queen was laid to rest beside the grave of her husband, John Dominis, after a 21-gun salute and a performance by St. Andrew’s Priory students of Liliuokalani’s “Aloha Oe”:

A fond embrace a hoi ae au

Until we meet again.

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