“The Queen’s Jubilee”

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Story by Jill Engledow

Hawaii Queen LiliuokalaniThe woman who would become Hawai‘i’s last monarch once paid tribute in song to another royal lady, England’s Queen Victoria. In 1887, while still a crown princess, Liliuokalani traveled to London to attend Victoria’s Jubilee. A talented and prolific composer as well as the heir to Hawai‘i’s throne, Liliuokalani was inspired by the journey across the Pacific, the American continent and the Atlantic to write several songs, one of which is named “The Queen’s Jubilee.” She composed the song in London on June 20, the fiftieth anniversary of Victoria’s succession to the throne of Great Britain, when nobility from around the world gathered there for a great celebration. Years later, after her own reign ended with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Liliuokalani shared the song with her British sister queen. Though it’s not clear whether Victoria ever heard the song performed, it was among others Liliuokalani collected in He Buke Mele Hawaii, a songbook she sent to Victoria in 1897. “The Queen’s Jubilee” is still performed by modern singers in praise of the Queen of England and Empress of India “i kou la nui jubili,” translated by Liliuokalani as “on this great day of thy Jubilee.”

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