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

Thomas Tunsch/Wikimedia CommonsThe fate of her fortune remains unknown.

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 $US215 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: 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.

The Shingle Family/Wikimedia CommonsAbigail Campbell, James Campbell’s wife, is pictured with her children.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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

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.

Iolani Palace in Honolulu/Wikimedia CommonsQueen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt.

Source: Associated Press, Forbes

Kawananakoa is worth about $US215 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: Associated Press

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

Musashi1600/Wikimedia CommonsConstruction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in progress in Waipahu.

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.

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