Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke, Queen Consort of Hawaii (January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885) was queen to King Kamehameha IV from 1856 to his death in 1863. She tried to run as Queen against King David Kalakaua.
Isabella Bird, on her travels to Hawaii, met Queen Emma and described her as very British and Hawaiian in many ways:
Miss W. kindly introduced me to Queen Emma, or Kaleleonalani, the widowed queen of Kamehameha IV., whom you will remember as having visited England a few years ago, when she received great attention. She has one-fourth of English blood in her veins, but her complexion is fully as dark as if she were of unmixed Hawaiian descent, and her features, though refined by education and circumstances, are also Hawaiian; but she is a very pretty, as well as a very graceful woman. She was brought up by Dr. Rooke, an English physician here, and though educated at the American school for the children of chiefs, is very English in her leanings and sympathies, an attached member of the English Church, and an ardent supporter of the “Honolulu Mission.” Socially she is very popular, and her exceeding kindness and benevolence, with her strongly national feeling as an Hawaiian, make her much beloved by the natives.
in an interview, Kanahele, author of Queen Emma: Hawaii's remarkable queen said :
She was different from any of her contemporaries. Emma is Emma is Emma. There’s no one like her. A devout Christian who chose to be baptized in the Anglican church in adulthood, and a typically Victorian woman who wore widow’s weeds, gardened, drank tea, patronized charities and gave dinner parties, she yet remained quintessentially Hawaiian. She wrote exquisite chants of lament in Hawaiian, craved Hawaiian food when she was away from it, loved to fish, hike, ride and camp out (activities she kept up to the end of her life) and, throughout her life, took very seriously her role as a protector of the people’s welfare. In a way, she was a harbinger of things to come in terms of Hawaii’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. You have to be impressed with her eclecticism — spiritually, emotionally and physically. She was kind of our first renaissance queen.
She grew up at her foster parents English Mansion at Honolulu named the Rooke House. Emma was educated in Honolulu at the Royal School, which was established by American missionaries attending the school was also other Hawawaiian royals including her half-sister Paaina. Like her contemporaries and classmates, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, David Kalakaua and Lydia Liliuokalani , she was truly cross-cultural — both Hawaiian and Euro-American in her habits and her thinking. But Emma often found herself at odds with her peers. And unlike many of them, she was neither romantic nor prone to hyperbole. When the school closed, Dr. Rooke hired an English governess, Sarah Rhodes von Pfister, to tutor the young Emma. He also encouraged reading from his extensive library. As a writer, he influenced Emma's interest in reading and books. By the time she was 20 years old, she was a beautiful and accomplished young woman. She was 5' 2", slender, well-proportioned, with large, beautiful black eyes. Her musical talents as a fine vocalist, talented pianist and good dancer were well known. She was also a skilled equestrian.
During her reign, the queen kept herself busy tending to palace affairs, including the expansion of the palace library. Inspired by her father’s work, she also encouraged her husband to establish a public hospital to help the Native Hawaiian population who were in decline due to foreign-borne diseases like smallpox.
Queen Emma was also nicknamed "Wahine Hololio" in deference to her renowned horsemanship.
During her reign and after, she was known for her humanitarian efforts.
In 1860, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV petitioned the Church of England to help them establish the Church of Hawaii. Upon the arrival of an Anglican bishop and two priests, they both underwent Christian confirmation in November 1862. She went to England to ask Queen Victoria for funds for the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew. Due to this and to Queen Emma's efforts to build a hospital (now Queen's Hospital), they were honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Their feast day is celebrated annually on November 28. Together, she and Alexander laid the groundwork for what is now 'Iolani School, as well.
The day after Lunalilo died, Kalakaua declared himself candidate for the throne. The next day Queen Emma did the same. The first real animosity between the Kamehamehas and Kalakaua begun to appear. The proclamation that Kalakaua put forth was a dignified one, as published;
" To the Hawaiian Nation."
“Salutations to You--Whereas His Majesty Lunalilo departed this life at the hour of nine o'clock last night; and by his death the Throne of Hawaii is left vacant, and the nation is without a head or a guide. In this juncture it is proper that we should seek for a Sovereign and Leader, and doing so, follow the course prescribed by Article 22nd of the Constitution. My earnest desire is for the perpetuity of the Crown and the permanent independence of the government and people of Hawaii, on the basis of the equity, liberty, prosperity, progress and protection of the whole people.
It will be remembered that at the time of the election of the late lamented Sovereign, I put forward my own claim to the Throne of our beloved country, on Constitutional grounds -- and it is upon those grounds only that I now prefer my claims, and call upon you to listen to my call, and request you to instruct your Representatives ro consider, and weigh well, and to regard your choice to elect me, the oldest member of a family high in rank in the country.
Therefore, I, David Kalakaua, cheerfully call upon you, and respectfully ask you to grant me your support. "
Iolani Palace, Feb. 4, 1874.
Queen Emma issued her proclamation the next day;
“To the Hawaiian People:
" Whereas, His late lamented Majesty Lunalilo died on the 3rd of February, 1874, without having publicly proclaimed a Successor to the Throne; and whereas, " His late Majesty did before his final sickness declare his wish and intention that the undersigned should be his Successor on the Throne of the Hawaiian Islands, and enjoined upon me not to decline the same under any circumstances; and whereas. "Many of the Hawaiian people have since the death of His Majesty urged me to place myself in nomination at the ensuing session of the Legislature; " Therefore, in view of the foregoing considerations and my duty to the people and to the memory of the late King, I do hereby announce and declare that I am a Candidate for the Throne of these Hawaiian Islands, and I request my beloved people throughout the group, to assemble peacefully ad orderly in their districts, and to give formal expression to their views on this important subject, and to instruct their Representatives in the coming session of the Legislature. "God Protect Hawaii! "
"Honolulu, Feb. 5, 1874.
EMMA KALELEONALANI. "
Emma's candidacy was agreeable to a large section of the Native Hawaiian population, not only because her husband was a member of the Kamehameha Dynasty, but she was closer in descent to Hawaii's first king, Kamehameha The Great, than her opponent. On foreign policy, she (like her husband) were pro-British while Kalākaua was pro-American. She also strongly wished to stop Hawaii's dependence on American industry and to give the Native Hawaiians a more powerful voice in government. While Emma enjoyed the support of the people, the Legislative Assembly, which was responsible for electing the new monarch, favored Kalākaua, who won the election 39 - 6. News of her defeat caused a large-scale riot, which was eventually dispersed due to the assistance of both British & American troops stationed on warships in Honolulu Harbor.
After the election, she retired from public life. While she would come to recognize Kalākaua as the rightful king, she would never speak with his wife Queen Kapiolani as a result of a family quarrel.
Emma would never attend any event that either Lili'uokalani or Kapiolani would attend. This was because Emma had blamed the death of Albert on Queen Kapiolani, who was supposed to the child's governess.