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The Queen Emma Summer Palace offers a unique opportunity to visit a 19th-century New England home less than 10 minutes outside of Honolulu in the lush Nuuanu Valley. Built in Boston in 1848, the palace was shipped to Hawaii via Cape Horn to serve as the summer home for Queen Emma, King Kamehameha IV, and their son, Prince Albert Edward.
Queen Emma, born in 1836, symbolized the islands’ cosmopolitan culture. She was descended both from Hawaiian chieftains and from John Young, an Englishman who became the friend and advisor of the great Kamehameha I.
The simple, seven-room home was the royal family's retreat from the hot and dusty climate of Honolulu. In the mid 19th century, the Nuuanu uplands was a secluded spot long popular with Hawaiian royalty and later the American industrialists who arrived in the 1870s and 80s. Today Old Pali Road is a main thoroughfare, but you can still get a feeling of what the atmosphere must have been like when Queen Emma received such distinguished visitors as the Duke of Edinburgh.
The home was slated for demolition in the early 1900s, but the non-profit Daughters of Hawaii purchased it and continue to maintain the home.
Frommer's says that the Summer Palace "is worth about an hour of your time to see the interesting blend of Victorian furniture and hallmarks of Hawaiian royalty…." The lush garden features both native and introduced tropical flowers and trees, and the home is full of royal art and artifacts. You'll see the young prince's canoe-shaped cradle, a tiger-claw necklace, feathered cloaks and the kahili that signify Hawaiian royalty, porcelain from the Japanese emperor, china from Queen Victoria, and more.