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Kamehameha I
Kamehameha II
Kamehameha III
Kamehameha IV
Kamehameha V
William Charles Lunalilo
David Kalakaua
`Iolani Palace

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William Charles Lunalilo


After the death of Kamehameha V, the constitution stipulated that the next ruler be chosen by a vote of legislators. Overwhelmingly supported by the general population, Lunalilo easily won the vote over his opponent, David Kalakaua. He took the throne in January 1873.

Lunalilo was a grandson of Kamehameha I's half-brother and was related to Kinau (one of Kamehameha's daughters) through his mother. His father Kanaina was a lesser chief and Lunalilo, like most royal children, was educated at the Chiefs' Childrens' School.

In 1860, Kamehameha IV sponsored a contest for new national anthem lyrics to match the tune of "God Save the King." Lunalilo wrote the winning entry and was awarded 10 dollars. His song became the kingdom's new anthem.

As king, Lunalilo quickly amended the Constitution of 1864 and abolished property requirements for voting. He unsuccessfully pursued a reciprocity treaty with the United States and withdrew a proposal to lease out Pearl Harbor when faced with public opposition. After defusing a mutiny of the Household Troops, Lunalilo disbanded the army.

He had once been engaged to Victoria Kamamalu, but because this match had been opposed by Kamehameha IV, Lunalilo remained a bachelor. He died in 1874 of tuberculosis and alcoholism, having ruled only a little over a year. Slighted by the Kamehameha family over the final resting place of his mother's remains, Lunalilo insisted that he be buried in a tomb separate from the Royal Mausoleum; his resting place still stands inside the grounds of Kawaiaha`o Church. He left his property to establish Lunalilo Home, a haven for poor, elderly, and infirm Hawaiians.

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