Medal for a Friendship
Two small kingdoms, at the two ends of the world, bravely fought to preserve their independence and freedom in the global turmoil of the last fourth of the nineteenth century. They understood and respected each other, purely and honorably. Both of them have ceased to exist long time ago, but the good spirit that brought them together more than one hundred and thirty years ago is still there. As a reminder of it, three Orders of the Cross of Takovo and Order of St. Sava, are still kept in Iolani Palace, in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu

By: Milomir Ognjanović
Photographs: Royal Palace Iolani Museum and M. Ognjanović

”I drink to health and happiness of His Majesty King Kalakaua and her Majesty Queen Kapiolani, and for the prosperity of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Hawaiian nation.” With these words, the King of Serbia Milan Obrenović toasted to the emissary of Hawaii in Belgrade on June 28, 1883, at the ceremony of establishing diplomatic relationships of the two kingdoms. The Serbian royal couple, Milan and Natalija Obrenović, as well as prime minister Milan Piroćanac, carried that evening the royal Hawaiian orders of Kamehemeha I and Kapiolani, which were donated to the Serbian emissaries by Hawaiian royal emissary Kurtis Iaukea. In the presence of the highest government representatives and members of diplomatic corps, King Milan that evening organized a banquet at the Palace, with the representative of Hawaii being the guest of honor. The King of Serbia also sent four orders of the Kingdom of Serbia (three Orders of the Cross of Takovo and Order of St. Sava) to the Hawaiian king, thus establishing diplomatic relationships with Hawaii. Iolani Royal Palace and Hawaiian Archive in the capital of Honolulu still keep those Serbian medals, as a memory of two kingdoms and their diplomacy in the turbulent 19th century.
Only a year earlier, on July 5, 1882, the American Senate ratified the Treaty on Trade and Navigation and Consular Convention of the Principality of Serbia with the USA. The first American ambassador in Serbia, Eugene Schuyler, came into office on November 10, 1882. Since then, over 40 American ambassadors have served Serbia, as well as over 30 ambassadors of Serbia and Yugoslavia in Washington. Still, a little known fact is that the Kingdom of Hawaii, now a federal state of the USA, also established official diplomatic relationships with Serbia, more than 130 years ago.
At that time, the Kingdom of Hawaii, on the other side of the globe, also fought to preserve and strengthen its independence. The Kingdom was under the rule of Kamehameha dynasty. In the capital of Hawaii, the city of Honolulu, there were embassies and foreign diplomatic offices. Sailors and merchants from Britain, Russia and the Use were arriving to the harbors of the Hawaiian islands. International treaties were being signed, and foreign officials and prestigious foreign guests were being hosted at Iolani Palace.
From the arrival of the first Europeans, throughout the 19th century, the Kingdom of Hawaii was experiencing a humanitarian disaster. The illnesses brought by foreigners, tuberculosis, viruses and infections, decimated the Polynesian population of Hawaii. In less than one hundred years, the local population decreased from 300 thousand to only 35 thousand. Scarce population caused the decreased influence of the Kingdom, opening the need for immigration. Therefore, in the late 19th century, immigrants from Japan, China, Portugal, USA and other countries arrive to the Hawaiian islands, looking for work on sugar cane plantations owned by European and American industrialists. Strong influence of the American business lobby, the desire of Washington to get the natural harbor Perl Harbor and dependence of Hawaii from American market, in the mid-19th century forced the King of Hawaii David Kalakaua to try, through active international policy, to strengthen the position of the Kingdom and resist the annexation attempts of the USA.


From 1881, king’s delegates, as well as King Kalakaua himself, were actively touring Europe, Africa and Asia, searching for a formal recognition of Hawaii. After visiting American president Chester Arthur, the Hawaiian king became the first monarch in the official visit to the USA. In Japan, during a meeting with the Meiji dynasty emperor, he offered him the hand of the Hawaiian princess. In Thailand, he established diplomatic relationships with King Rama V. He was a guest of Tewfik – Viceroy of Egypt, supreme raja in the British Indies, and negotiated the opening of immigration for the workers from these countries. In Europe, he was a guest of Queen Victoria, Pope Leo XIII and German Emperor Wilhelm.
King’s delegate Curtis Iaukea continued the diplomatic mission of his country in Russia, France, Austro-Hungary, and in the summer of 1883 also in Serbia, to which he dedicated an entire chapter of his memoirs.
”We embarked the ship to Belgrade”, Curtis Iaukea describes his journey down the Danube. ”We enjoyed the view of both banks of this river and areas next to it, which look different from our island nature. Danube for us is also truly unique, because in Hawaii we practically don’t have navigable rivers... Since we will only be traveling to Belgrade, we will not see the Đerdap Gorge, which is considered to be the most beautiful river gorge in Europe.”
In Belgrade, the Hawaiian royal delegate was greeted by Milan Piroćanac, the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Serbia. Queen Natalija gave her royal carriage to the special guest from far away Hawaii, and the secretary of the prime minister was at his disposal for the duration of his stay in the capital of Serbia. Already on the first day, together with Piroćanac, he goes to the royal palace, where twenty guardsmen welcomed him with Serbian anthem.
King Milan welcomed him in the ceremonious hall of the palace. Iaukea addresses the King of Serbia in Hawaiian language, with translation into French. With traditional Hawaiian greeting Aloha, expression of friendship and love, he expresses his gratitude for the hospitality and toasts to the king and queen of Serbia, prince Aleksandar and the people of the Kingdom. He hands out the letter from the Hawaiian king and expresses his wish to strengthen the ties between Serbia and Hawaii in the near future. As a gesture of friendship of Hawaii toward Serbia, Iaukea gives to King Milan the Order of Great Cross of King Kamehameha I, and to Queen Natalija the Hawaiian Order of Great Cross of Queen Kapiolani.
In his memoirs, Iaukea wrote down the toast of King Milan. When giving the Order of the Cross of Takovo to Iaukea, King Milan sends for the Hawaiian royal couple another two Orders of the Cross of Takovo and Order of St. Sava.


The Serbian king invited the special guest from Hawaii to attend the official audience that evening in the palace, to celebrate the Vidovdan. All ministers of the Kingdom of Serbia, as well as ambassadors of Germany, Britain, Italy, Russia, Greece, Spain, Belgium and Romania were present at the royal ball. Iaukea had an honorary place on the right hand side of Queen Natalija, while the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Serbia was sitting on her left side, directly facing the king of Serbia. Iaukea was impressed with the reception, brilliant uniforms of the guests, jewels and pearls decorating the ladies in the palace in Belgrade. He said that it was the most pleasant social event he had ever attended.
In his memoirs, Iaukea described the Serbian queen as a very pleasant and social person. They talked about unique candles, music and her music arrangement of the program at the Vidovdan Ball, as well as on the photograph of the Serbian royal couple she had given to him. A Hawaiian daily paper dedicated great attention to this gathering. The article published on August 18, 1883 in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, in the capital of Honolulu, recounted the atmosphere at the royal ball in Belgrade, emphasizing that the Hawaiian delegate in Serbia was given great honors, that the representatives of Serbia had given many compliments to the Kingdom of Hawaii, and that His Majesty King Milan expressed his satisfaction with the visit of the Hawaiian emissary. Iaukea wrote down that the Serbian royal couple had welcomed him with utmost sincerity and hospitality: ”Personally, I feel that I will never forget June 28, 1883 because of the honors given to me quite unexpectedly by the Serbian king and queen.”
Iaukea had an opportunity to spend another day in the capital of Serbia and write down interesting observations about Belgrade from that time. He was fascinated when walking around the Kalemegdan Fortress, with more than two thousand years of history,. He visited the ”Roman Well” on the fortress, and then on a royal yacht he sailed the Sava River. His hosts showed to him the works on construction of the railroad bridge. He was impressed with the uniforms and postures of Serbian cavalry officers. In Topčider, he visited the royal villa in a carriage and walked through the oasis of Serbian capital, calling it the most favorable place for excursions of the Belgradians. There, he saw again the royal couple while passing by in the carriage: they greeted him with a smile. Completely content and with beautiful thoughts about Serbia, the royal Hawaiian emissary continued his mission around Europe on July 1, 1883. After returning to Hawaii, King David Kalakaua wrote an acknowledgment to King Milan. Serbian orders are still kept in Iolani Royal Palace in Honolulu, and the diplomatic correspondence in Hawaiian State Archives.


The Kingdom of Hawaii retained its sovereign status for over one hundred years, until the coup in January 1893, when a dozen local industrialists, in cooperation with the American army, took over the rule and established the Republic. The putschists formally requested annexation of Hawaii from the president in Washington, but American president Grover Cleveland did not give them his support. Still, after the coming to power of President William McKinley, and during the American establishment of the protectorate over the Philippines and Guam, 1898 Hawaii was formally annexed.
Although formally the kingdoms of Hawaii and Serbia no longer exist, the monarchist traditions are alive. The advocates of independent Hawaii claim that the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii is based in international laws and that it legally has never ceased to exist.
In the period when it celebrates more than 130 years of diplomatic relations with the USA, it is good to remind ourselves of the special friendship that Serbia built with the state of Hawaii, one of the most exotic in the world. Well known for their greeting Aloha, Hawaii is a symbol of love and friendship. This word is, all at once, a greeting, a blessing, and a symbol of positive approach to life, family, friends and foreigners. The example of the Hawaiian-Serbian diplomacy from the 19th century shows that the ”Aloha Spirit” also exists in traditional Serbian hospitality. For more than 130 years, Serbian medals have been a symbol that the people of Hawaii have been diligently safeguarding in Iolani Royal Palace, recognizing the ”Serbian Aloha” and pacing the road to new generations of Serbia and Hawaii.
(Honolulu, May 2015)


Value of the Late Apology
In 1959, the former Kingdom of Hawaii gained the status of a US state. At the 100th anniversary of the annexation, in 1993, the US Congress and president William Clinton issued a resolution in which the USA formally apologized to the people of Hawaii for the annexation. However, this did not mitigate the anger of local Hawaiian population. The political turmoil related to sovereignty of Hawaii still exists, and a large part of the indigenous population are seeking full independence.


The author extends his gratitude to representatives of Iolani Royal Palace in Hawaii, which have sent the official photograph of the Order of the Cross of Takovo and helped with archive materials. We would also like to extend out gratitude to local Serbian community in the parish of St. Lazar in Hawaii.


From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију