Meet Abigail Kawananakoa, Hawaii’s intensely private ‘last princess’ who’s locked in a battle for control over her $215 million fortune

The fate of her fortune remains unknown.

caption
The fate of her fortune remains unknown.
source
Thomas Tunsch/Wikimedia Commons

It sounds like a fairy tale gone off the tracks.

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa is Hawaii’s last living princess. She descends from an Irish businessman named James Campbell, who came to Hawaii in the 1800s and made a ton of money off his sugar plantation.

Now, Kawananakoa and her partner are involved in an ongoing legal battle over the fate of Kawananakoa’s $215 million fortune, which she’s used partly to support the preservation of native Hawaiian culture.

Take a look at some of the most interesting facts about Kawananakoa’s life.


This is Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa. She is 91 years old and goes by “Kekau” (pronounced kay-kow). She tends to be an extremely private person.

source
Thomas Tunsch/Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Kawananakoa is Hawaii’s last princess. If Hawaii were still its own nation with its own monarchy, she would likely assume the throne. She descends from James Campbell, an Irish businessman who came to Hawaii in the mid-1800s and made a fortune as a partner in a Maui sugar plantation.

caption
Abigail Campbell, James Campbell’s wife, is pictured with her children.
source
The Shingle Family/Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Her grandfather was Prince David Kawananakoa, who was named an heir to the Hawaiian throne.

source
Hawaii State Archives/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press


Though Kawananakoa has no official title and wields no power in Hawaii, many native Hawaiians see her as a symbol of a time when Hawaii was its own nation. The US annexed Hawaii in 1898, having already ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt, in 1893.

caption
Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt.
source
Iolani Palace in Honolulu/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press, Forbes


Kawananakoa is worth about $215 million. She has dedicated parts of her fortune to various causes, including keeping Iolani Palace — America’s only royal residence which is now a museum — intact.

source
Don Ramey Logan/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press


She’s also helped fund protests against building a telescope on a sacred Hawaiian mountain and resistance to a Honolulu rail project.

caption
Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in progress in Waipahu.
source
Musashi1600/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Associated Press, Hawaii News Now


In October 2017, Kawananakoa married her longtime partner, Veronica Gail Worth, who was 63 years old.

Source: Hawaii News Now


The couple has been involved in an ongoing legal dispute. Kawananakoa’s former attorney alleged that Worth had physically abused Kawananakoa, who had a stroke in August 2017. The former attorney also said Worth was financially exploiting Kawananakoa because Kawananakoa was mentally unfit to manage her own finances.

Source: Hawaii News Now


Kawananakoa, who said she was able to manage her own money, fired the attorney. The state Attorney General’s office became involved in the battle over Kawananakoa’s money because of allegations that charitable assets earmarked for native Hawaiians are being squandered. In September, a judge appointed someone to investigate the allegations — a court hearing is scheduled for February.

Source: Hawaii News Now


Kawananakoa has supported the preservation of native Hawaiian culture, donating items like King Kalakaua’s roughly 14-carat diamond pinky ring to the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Not many people know there’s an American princess, making Kawananakoa’s life story an incredible piece of US history.