Tuesday Teen Recommendations: Princess Kaʻiulani

Every week a guest teen reviewer shares a book, movie, or music recommendation. This week's guest post is by a 10th grader at the Shoreline Library. 

Princess Ka'iulani [streaming video]

Princess Ka'iulani, or by her full name Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn, was Crown Princess of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the late 19th century. The film tells her true story of her desperate attempt to preserve the independence of her island in the face of American colonization. She was second in line to the throne, after her aunt Liliʻuokalani.

But life on the picturesque island was becoming dangerous due to growing differences between King Kalākaua, Ka'iulani's uncle, and his political opponents. When Kalākaua was forced to sign a new constitution that would have granted more power to men of European descent, riots broke out, and Ka'iulani's father, the Scottish Archibald Scott Cleghorn, found it necessary to escort the princess to safety, to England. Ka'iulani had to fit into the new society, which was dominated by stereotypes and racism. But her host family, the Davies, were kind to her, and she fell in love with young Clive Davies. The two became engaged.

During Ka'iulani's absence, however, Kalākaua died shortly after he signed the new constitution, and Liliʻuokalani ascended the throne, making Ka'iulani heir to the throne. But a native rebellion against the new constitution served as a good excuse to place Liliʻuokalani under house arrest and to topple the monarchy. The country, which was still independent, though already under strong American influence when Ka'iulani left it, was now under annexation. On her way back to Hawaii, Ka'iulani stopped in the United States to meet President Cleveland. Although Cleveland decided to refrain from annexing Hawaii, his days in office were numbered. But Princess Ka’iulani can still achieve one thing even if a constitutional monarchy is out of question. Recommended for ages 12 and older.