She was born, the youngest daughter of High Chieftess Analea Keohokalole and High Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapa'akea, in Honolulu, Oahu. She was a younger sister of Moses Kapaakea, James Kaliokalani, David Kalakaua, Lili'uokalani, Kaiminaauao and Anna Kaiulani, and the older sister of Leleiohoku II. She was the mother of Princess Ka'iulani, last heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Because Princess Likelike was not in the best of health as a very young child, she was sent to live in the dry healthy climate of Kona on the island of Hawaii. At the age of 6, she returned to Honolulu and remained there until her marriage.
In September 22 1870 she married to Archibald S. Cleghorn, a Scottish financier over twice her age. The wedding was at her sister house Washington Place. Archibald was 35 and Miriam was 19. Like her sister Lydia and her husband John Dominis, her marriage with Archie didn't run smoothly. Archie and John were Victorian gentlemen who expected they be the lord of their castle, their servants, their children, and even their wives. But, alii , male or female, were raised to rule others, not to be ruled by others. Her husband could be blustery and demanding. The princess handled it by simply returning to Big Island of Hawaii and refusing to come back. In August 1883 she wrote the strongest letter to her husband from her Big Island retreat:
"You always blame me in everything and I am getting tired of it. I will have to kill myself then you won't have me to growl at all the time. I think we are better separated...as you don't love me and I don't love you so I will simply say, 'God bless the good."
As dramatic as the letter sounds she returned to Oahu. They gave birth to a daughter, Kaiulani, 5 years after their marriage and she would be the only Kalakaua of her generation. In June 1877, two years after her daughter Kaiulani birth, Likelike had a miscarriage while on a ship head toward San Francisco. She would never conceive another child. From that time Kaiulani became the focus her life and the future of the kingdom she would one day inherit. As Kaiulani's mother she could be willful at time. In an early thank you note to her daughter's godmother, Princess Ruth, she wrote:
"Dear Mama Nui,
Thank you for the nice hat you sent me. It fits so nicely Mama wanted it, but I would not let her have it. Thank you for the corn and watermelons, they do taste so good. Are you well? With much love from your litte girl, Kaiulani.
PS. I want you to give Miss Barnes (her governess) a native name"
Not surprisingly another letter followed, the angry Kaiulani wrote:
"Dear Mama Nui,
I want another hat. Mama Likelike has taken the one you sent me. Are you better now? When are you coming coming home? With much love. From your little girl, Kaiulani."
Likelike was third-in-line to the throne behind her brother William Pitt Leleiohoku and her sister Liliuokalani until her brother's death which elevated her to second-in-line to the throne and her daughter as third-in-line. She was the royal governor of Hawaii 1878-1880.
Likelike was vivacious and well-liked by all, and her home was opened to important people from all over the world. She was magnanimous and kind hearted to everyone she loved. She had a reputation of being a kindly, gracious hostess in almost every country of Europe and almost every state of the union. She would always be up with the latest fashions, ordering dresses and clothing from Paris. Princess Likelike, Liliuokalani, Leleiohoku and Kalakaua have been known as "Hawaii's First Family of Musicians." She could be quite imperious and quick-tempered. For example she once smacked a groom with a whip for not keeping the carriage properly polished.
She died in 1887, before her daughter reached her teenage years. The cause of the princess's death is still unknown; she is said to have simply taken to her bed and refused all food. The middle of January, 1887, a large school of aweoweo, a small, red fish was seen off the coast of the island of Hawai`i, where Likelike had once been governor. The massing of the bright red fish close to shore was considered an omen of death for members an ali'i family. Feb. 2, 1887, Princess Likelike died at age 36. Some people have asserted that she did this to appease the anger of Pele, goddess of volcanoes. It was said in her last hours she predicted that Kaiulani will never married and she would never become Queen. This prophesy later became true much later on. There were rumors that she was prayed to death by a powerful `ana`ana