History and Legacy
In 1856, Emma married her childhood friend, Alexander Liholiho, or King Kamehameha IV, in an Episcopalian wedding at Kawaiaha‘o Church. During Kamehameha IV’s reign, the Hawaiian people were dying rapidly from disease and facing extinction. Both Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma became impassioned with saving their people and decided to raise the funds needed to establish Queen’s Hospital, now known as The Queen’s Health Systems. They tirelessly went door to door to accomplish their mission, and within a month, raised over $13,000 to open the hospital.
Two years later in 1858, Emma gave birth to a son, Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha. Prince Albert brought much happiness and joy to the King and Queen, and as the next heir to the throne, was beloved by the Hawaiian people. Tragically, Prince Albert died in August 1862 of causes that we will never know for certain, given the lack of medical information. He was only four years old.
Only a year later, a grief-stricken Kamehameha IV, who blamed himself for the boy’s death, also died. After losing both her beloved son and husband, Queen Emma took the name of Kaleleonālani, or “The flight of the heavenly chiefs,” in remembrance of Kamehameha IV and Prince Albert. Her pain and remorse fueled her mission even more, and she actively raised funds with Queen Victoria of England to complete the establishment of The Cathedral of St. Andrew, and in 1867, recognizing the need for a quality education for Hawaiian girls, the St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls.
When King Lunalilo died in 1874, Queen Emma became a candidate for the royal throne. Known as “The People’s Queen,” she was loved for her humanitarian efforts throughout the Hawaiian Islands. She campaigned but was defeated by a vote at the legislature for King David Kalākaua.
Queen Emma died in April 1885 at the age of 49. She was given a royal funeral and was laid to rest in Mauna ‘Ala, next to her husband and young son.
Today, the students of St. Andrew’s Schools honor Queen Emma by perpetuating her legacy of compassionate leadership through her Episcopal faith and her values of Aloha, Pono, Mālama, Kuleana, ‘Imi Na‘auao, Ho‘omanawanui, which are woven into our school traditions and educational curriculum.