'Iolani Palace is the only official state residence of royalty in the United States. I have been on a tour of the palace once many years ago while on a field trip with three 4th grade classes. The palace is well preserved and quite beautiful both inside and out.
I had planned to take Katia and Guido to the palace while they were here visiting Oahu. Friday, August 17th was Admissions Day. Admissions Day is a state holiday in Hawaii, which is celebrated on the 3rd Friday in August to commemorate the day Hawaii became the 50th state (August 18, 1959). I called the palace that morning to see if it would be open for tours. I was hoping to visit the palace on Friday as the Royal Hawaiian Band plays on the lawn of the palace at noon on Fridays and parking would be free and much easier to find since it was a state holiday. I found out when I called that the palace would be open and that special ceremonies would be taking place at noon as well as an open house of the palace when the ceremonies were completed. I later found out that the special ceremonies were not specifically in honor of the state holiday but were in honor of the 125th anniversary of the 'Iolani Palace.
It turned out to be a perfect day to visit the palace! After a few trips around the block to find a parking spot, luck was on our side. We ended up with a perfect parking spot right in front of the palace! When we arrived, the Royal Hawaiian Band was warming up. The palace was decorated with two flags hanging at the entrance and people were lined up along the driveway waiting for the procession to begin.
The following are a few pictures from the procession. The men in red were Honolulu Fire Department Honor Guard members in recognition of the fact that the monarch himself had been a member of the old volunteer Honolulu Fire Department. The women in black were members of one of the Royal Benevolent societies. I think the women in white were also members of one of the Royal Benevolent societies. I do not know who the men in black represented. I am guessing royal guards? Also included in the procession were assorted dignitaries, including the governor, the mayor, and various state legislators and city council members.
After the procession entered the palace, the Royal Hawaiian Band played. During a few of the songs, a beautiful hula dancer performed.
I saw a line forming in front of a white tent set up across the lawn. Hawaiian food plates were being sold. Each plate had poi, lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, kalua pork, lau lau, and rice. I bought one plate for us to share. Katia is definitely not a fan of Hawaiian food, although she did try a few of the dishes. Guido seemed to like most of the dishes. I am only a fan of the poi and lomi lomi salmon and of course the rice. We just barely finished one plate.
While the band was playing, I noticed a fire truck drive up to the palace. A few minutes later an ambulance arrived. I later found out that one of the people inside the palace fainted. He was transported to the hospital awake and alert and was later fine.
After the band finished playing, the procession headed back out of the palace.
The palace was then opened to the public. Here are a couple of pictures of the back of the palace, which is also where the public is allowed to enter the palace.
When the band finished playing, we first went to look in the gift shop which was located inside the 'Iolani Palace Barracks. When we finally went to visit the palace, we were surprised to find a very long line. It took about 30 minutes to get in. We later found out that there was some sort of delay that caused the long line. I heard something about an electrical outage while at the gift shop and wondered if it was due to the outage or if it was due to the medical emergency that happened earlier in the day. Either way, it was worth the wait. There were many volunteers dressed in beautiful white muu mmus who gave us lots of information about the palace. I had not been to the basement the last time I visited the palace or at least I did not remember being there. In the basement, there are many amazing pictures displayed as well as crown jewels, dishes, silverware, and other palace items. I would definitely recommend a tour of the palace to anyone visiting Oahu! It turned out to be quite a cultural day for Katia and Guido.
Here is my favorite picture, which was taken in front of the palace: