Abigail Helen Kapiolani Kawānanakoa was born on 14 March 1903 as the eldest daughter of Prince David Kawānanakoa of Hawaii and Princess Abigail Wahiʻikaʻahuʻula Campbell Kawānanakoa. Her birth was announced in the newspapers with the brief words, “Born: at Waikiki, Honolulu, March 14 at 2 P.M. to the Wife of Prince David Kawānanakoa, a daughter.”1 She was joined in the nursery by a brother named David Kalākaua Kawānanakoa on 10 March 1904 and a sister named Lydia Liliuokalani Kawānanakoa on 22 July 1905. As she was born after the monarchy in Hawaii was abolished, she did not officially carry a royal title. Her father David and his younger brother Kuhio were named princes of the realm and heirs presumptive to the throne behind Princess Kaiulani before the overthrow of the monarchy.
On 8 February 1908, Kapiolani was adopted by her maternal grandmother with her name being changed to Kapiolani Campell.2 Shortly after, her father passed away from pneumonia at the age of 40, followed by the grandmother that had just adopted her on 1 November 1908. Following her grandmother’s death, her grandfather petitioned to be made her guardian, but this was granted to her mother instead.3 She and her siblings were heirs to the large Campbell estate.
In 1922, Kapiolani married her first husband, Andrew Anderson Lambert, with whom she would have three children: Edward Abnel Keli’iahonui “Dudie” Kawānanakoa II (born 2 October 1924), Virginia Poʻomaikelani Kawānanakoa (born 29 November 1926) and Esther Kapiʻolani Kawānanakoa (born 1928). They were eventually divorced, and Kapiolani remarried in 1944 to Harry Montague Field.
Kapionali was a great influence on the Hawaiians and led the Hale o na Alii o Hawaii (House of Chiefs of Hawaii). A newspaper quoted in her obituary, “The Hawaiians will do what she says.”4 When speaking of a possible restoration of the monarchy in Hawaii, Kapiolani said, “If America wanted to do something on her accord to restore the monarchy, that would be all right… but no Hawaiian would do anything to hurt America. We love America too much.”5
Kapiolani was in ill-health for the last ten years of her life, and her husband devotedly nursed her for those years. On 8 April 1961, she suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of 58. Her body lay in state in Honolulu, and she was honoured with the traditional alii rites. Several mourners maintained a guard over the body and sang and chanted for the departed soul. She was buried in the Oahu Cemetery on the Kawānanakoa family plot.