The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Knights Grand Cross Breast Star

SKU: 01.HAW.0101.103.01

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  • Reverse


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  • date of institution
    April 4, 1865


The Royal Order of Kamehameha I was established on April 4, 1865 by King Kamehameha V to commemorate King Kamehameha I (r. 1795-1819), founder of the Hawaiian Islands. The three classes, all of which were limited in numbers, include the Knights Grand Cross (10), Knights Commander (30), and Knights Companion (50).

The Kingdom of Hawaii was forcibly deposed in 1893 by the United States, became a Republic in 1894 and was incorporated as a state in 1898, resulting in the suppression of the Order of Kamehameha I. When Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was successfully elected into Congress in 1903, representing the ancestral islands, he declared the Order extant on the basis of being a male related to the past King and Queen. The legitimacy of his right to revive the Order is controversial because he was not the senior heir - his brother, Prince David Kawananaoa was alive in the year of Kalanianaole’s declaration.

This Order was awarded to both subjects and foreigners for distinguished service to the crown. It was conferred a total of 139 times - on 57 individuals by King Kamehameha V and on 82 individuals by King Kalakaua, including promotions to higher classes. Once conferred, members were allowed to use official initials following their name: Knights Grand Cross (K.G.C.K), Knights Commander (K.C.K) and Knights Companion (C.K). Recipients of this principal order are entitled to be called “Sir.” It was not been bestowed after 1886.

The Knights Grand Cross was conferred on 40 subjects and foreigners, with subjects paying at $250 admittance fee. The Grand Master may administer a gold or enamel ornamental collar as an additional award, however this has only ever been received by two individuals, Queen Victoria and Emperor Mutsuhito of Japan. Recipients of the Knights Grand Cross include, but are not limited to Italian King Victor Emmanuel II (1865), the German Emperor, King of Prussia, Wilhelm I (1876), and the Emperor of Russia, Alexander III (1883).


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