The Hunt for the Missing Hawaiian Crown Jewels

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The parties of Hawaii are still not joyous. King Kalakaua had reigned for eight years, but all it took was one errand around the world for him to decide that he requirement a European-style coronation terminated with all the pomp and circumstance–otherwise known as” no expense saved “– that the celebration would entail.

This ceremony, naturally, would also require brand-new crowns for both the tycoon and princes, ones that would be made in London and liberally encrusted with all the fine pearls and diamonds that match their station.

” At the time, the taxpayers of this country strenuously objected to the expenses of the coronation rehearsal, but their objections carried no load and the expensive festivities went on ,” the Daily Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported a decade eventually in 1893( PDF ).

The coronation might have been an excess pride play for a sovereign who was already emperor, but Kalakaua was looking to the future in the purchase of the sparkling new his-and-her headpieces; the crowns were intended to live far beyond the opening ceremony and serve as something of a imperial investment that they are able passed down through generations of lords.

Little did he know that they would only be worn once. The Hawaiian autocracy would soon fall and, as the junk of the coup set, a patch against his gold crown would be uncovered.

But those were concerns for another daylight. Feb. 12, 1883 dawned with downpours that soon cleared up as the citizens of the member states of Hawaii gathered to officially coronate King Kalakaua on the ninth commemoration of his reign.

The affairs of the working day followed high standards coronation template. King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani handled onto the dais and took their thrones. After cuss his curse, donning the traditional feathered mantle of Hawaii’s tycoons, and taking up his new scepter, the lord was lastly ready to be crowned.

The crown that had arrived from London was a beautiful shed in solid gold( PDF ). A velvet cloth cap underlaid the gold organization, whose crest was ornamented with a Maltese cross embedded with a large diamond in the center which was ” the size of a ten cent piece .”

Other precious stones and diamonds were inset throughout the treetop( one account lists the bounty at 521 diamonds, 54 beads, 20 rubies, 20 opals, eight emeralds, and more) and solid gold kalo( also known as taro) leaves were mounted on either side to represent the sacred flora of Hawaii.

A similarly impressive coronet was told for his princes, producing the grand total of their new accessories to $10,000 ($ 225,000 in today’s currency ).

The crowning of Kalakaua went off without a hitch. With the chancellor’s somber proclamation,” Receive this Crown of pure amber to adorn the high depot wherein thou hast been placed ,” he was officially–well, officially still–the predominating monarch of Hawaii.

But the crowning of the queen didn’t become fairly so well.

According to Julia Flynn Siler in Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last-place Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure , all parties involved forgot to take into account the elaborate hairstyle the queen was boasting on that important period. When the ruler turning now to ceremonially crown his spouse, the crown wouldn’t fit.

” The gathering watched with intense stake, while hairpins, combing, and cloaks were being removed. In vain! The crown would not fit, and in hopelessnes, and apparently in no very good temper, the King made a final effort, and literally crammed the insignia of royalty down on Her Majesty’s temples ,” one Westerner wrote of the festivals, according to Siler.

The coronation day would be the only time that King Kalakaua would wear his sparkling brand-new treetop.

In 1891, the prince was on a call to San Francisco when he died. His sister premised the throne, but her reign only lasted two years.

After trying to expand the powers of the monarchy and protection of rights of native Hawaiians, Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed in an 1893 military takeover backed by businessmen and sugar impresarios, many of whom were American. With that, the Hawaiian autocracy had come to an end.

It was in the aftermath of this regiman change that a sickening secret was discovered. As the brand-new sovereigns started to investigation their bounty, they requested that all the imperial belonging in the care of the previous custodian be turned over.

The king’s crown had been accumulated for safekeeping in a locked leather box in the custodian’s office at the cellar of Iolani Palace. When the box was retrieved, the observers discovered a scandalous suit of foul play.

” When the stem was accompanied forth on Monday it was found that the fastening had been broken ,” a piece in the Daily Pacific Commercial Advertiser speak on April 5, 1893( PDF ).” The chest containing the coronets had been opened and Kalakau’s crown had been robbed of its ornaments. All that was left of it was the velvet detonator .”

Part of the gold filigree that once made up the crown was found tossed aside in a closet in the chamberlain’s office.

Newspapers reported on the political blame-game that quickly began. Caused the hectic political statu, all parties seemed anxious to part a paw at the other side.

The new governing supremacy immediately residence the blame for the vile deed as having taken place before the takeover, for the purposes of the watch of the queen.

There was a report that an unidentified” visitor now in this city” had pictured the treetop around March 26( two months after the coup) and the cross was already missing its sizable diamond. He was told it was taken during the predominate of Kalakaua, although that didn’t explain what happened to the other stones.

According to reports in The Hawaiian Gazette , the investigate the competences of the local police left a lot to be hoped at the time. It’s never a good clue when the newspaper characterizes its city as one” where inventive detective work is almost unknown .”

Even the lead investigator, William Larsen, was initially indecisive to take on the suit” as there was absolutely no clue to start with .”( Rest assured, he was convinced and” became pluckily to cultivate … and for three weeks he worked hard, but became little headway .”)

But Larsen eventually caught a break-dance. He narrowed down the window of stealing to sometime between April 1 and April 2–well after the coup, one might note–and adjust his locates on a 25 -year-old American, George Ryan, who was a sentry in the palace and had been on duty during that time. He also had recently sold a loose diamond to a sidekick.

Larsen examined Ryan’s accommodations and detected a dozen small-scale diamonds “thats been” wrap in article and jostle in the pocket of an old-time vest.

Ryan caught gust of the investigation and is seeking to abscond, but, Hawaii being an island and all, he was caught the day before his scheduled steamer differed. With that Larsen had cracked the example and testified The Hawaii Gazette wrong.

Well, sort of. Ryan only had minuscule diamonds in his owned , not the major stones–or the major length of stones–that had been in the king’s treetop. Dominions believed a bit jail time to the motif of three years would help loosen Ryan’s cheeks and that he was ultimately uncover who else had been involved. But Ryan never cracked and no other conducts ever materialized.

King Kalakaua’s crown was left a sad specter of its once superb immortality. In 1925, a restoration struggle was undertaken and glass and paste ornaments were determined where emeralds, rubies, and diamonds had once shone.

The crown was returned to Iolani Palace, where it now sets beside its more valuable spouse( which was never stroked ), having merely “ve been” worn formerly on a February day in 1883 when the whole country came out to celebrate the re-crowning of a monarch.

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