HONOLULU, Hawaii: The casket bearing Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, long considered the last Hawaiian princess, has gone on public viewing in the Lolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.
The casket, handcrafted from a 165-year-old koa tree that fell during a 2021 storm on the Big Island, arrived at the palace in a hearse and was greeted by a traditional Hawaiian wailing and a chanting of her lineage, before being carried by members of an honor guard of law enforcement officers into the throne room.
"The wailing was just beautiful. It just caused a visceral reaction for me. I started to cry," said family spokesperson Caroline Witherspoon, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The palace, formerly the home of Hawaiian royalty but is now a museum, is the only royal residence in the US.
Kawananakoa, who was 96 years old when she died, was the palace's largest single benefactor and even paid its electricity bills for many years.
Members of the public were allowed to view her casket. The viewing was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. local time.
Kawananakoa died at her home on 11th December in Nuuanu, near downtown Honolulu. She passed away peacefully with her wife, Veronica Gail Kawananakoa, 70, at her side.
"Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people, and I will miss her with all of my heart," Kawananakoa said in a news release.
While she held no formal title, Kawananakoa was considered a princess, as she was part of the lineage that included the royal family that once ruled the Hawaiian islands.
Meanwhile, Gov. Josh Green ordered that US and Hawaii's state flag be flown at half-staff at the state Capitol and state offices.
A private funeral service is scheduled at Mauna Ala, the Royal Mausoleum State Monument, the burial site of Hawaiian royalty.