Princess Ka'iulani spent most of her childhood at the Ainahau Estate in Waikiki. This beautiful coconut grove (also known as "Cool Land") was gifted to her upon her birth in 1875. Ainahau was home to over fifty peacocks, who roamed freely on the estate grounds. Princess Ka'iulani's love for the exotic birds led to one of her most famous nicknames, "The Peacock Princess". Today, the Princess Ka'iulani Hotel sits at the entrance of what once was Ainahau.
Ka'iulani was to take the thrown as Hawaii's Queen after her aunt Queen Lilioukulani. In 1893, after the death of her uncle King David Kalakaua and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Moncarchy under Lilioukulani, Princess Ka'iulani traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with President Grover Cleveland. Ka'iulani's presence influenced President Cleveland to reassess the situation in Hawaii. In Washington – annexation was stopped and Minister James Blount was sent to Honolulu to conduct an in depth investigation of the political activities in Hawaii, and assess the situation. Honolulu celebrated. Colorful banners and images of Ka‘iulani decorated shop windows, celebrating their young princess.
Nevertheless, in 1898 Hawaii was finally annexed by the United States.
"I thought my heart would break when I heard that the monarchy was overthrown, and I had all a girl's disappointment, and I think all a Queen's. I had wanted to be a good Queen some day. I had thought about it and made all sorts of vows and plans you can think of. I dreamed of all that I would do for my people. I was sure that I could make them the happiest people in the world. They are a happy people, you know—very kind and simple and trusting. They have shown that to the world, haven't they?"
Princess Ka'iulani's full name is Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn. She stood for Hawaii. She stood for her people. She stood for "the truth". These words, from the Hawaiian Declaration of Right of 1840, made a lasting impression on young Ka’iulani:
"God has made of one blood, all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth in unity and blessedness. God has bestowed certain rights alike on all men, all chiefs, and all people of all lands."