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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

King Kamehameha III and Princess Nahi'ena'ena

Portrait of King Kamehameha III of Hawai'i

Portrait of a young Princes Nahi'ena'ena

Portrait of an adult Princess Nahi'ena'ena

Like in many other Polynesian cultures, it was common practice in Hawai’ian society for royals to marry within their own family. The practice was actually encouraged by Hawai’ian elders. When Christian missionaries came to Hawai’i, they tried to crush the practice. The last Hawai’ian king to have a consanguineous relationship was King Kamehameha III, the first Christian king of Hawai’i. However, he didn’t succumb to the wishes of the missionaries.

At an early age, he had fallen in love with his sister Nahi’ena’ena, and wanted to marry her. Because of opposition by the missionaries, he did not, but he also held off marrying the preferred choice of the missionaries for many years. Bingham learned that even after King Kamehameha III of Hawaii accepted Christian rule, he slept for several years with his sister, Princess Nahi’ena’ena — pleasing their elders but disturbing the missionaries. They did it, says historian Carando, because they loved each other.” He only married the wife favored by the missionaries after his sister had died.

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