Helen Lydia Kamakaʻeha Liliʻuokalani Kawānanakoa was born on 22 July 1905 as the daughter of Prince David Kawānanakoa and Princess Abigail Campbell Kawānanakoa. As she was born after the monarchy in Hawaii was abolished, she did not officially carry a royal title though many referred to her as such. She was named for Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was the last Queen of Hawaii. Her father David and his younger brother Kuhio were named princes of the realm and heirs presumptive to the throne behind Princess Kaiulani.
Liliuokalani would be one of three siblings. She had an elder sister named Abigail and an elder brother named David. Lydia received her education at a convent school in San Francisco. In 1922 a Toledo newspaper reported, “A princess with bobbed hair! The long golden curls of the storybook have suddenly changed to black shorn locks and worse still, this little lady who could wear the cloak of royalty, much prefers being a flapper. Princess Liliuokalani Kawanawakoa of Hawaii has come to America to continue her education in a San Francisco convent. Lazy and happy, she says she is, and she likes to ride, swim, and dance, but we will not say much about what she thinks of study, although she is a game little princess.”1
On 17 January 1925, Liliuokalani married her first husband William J. Ellerbrock, who was an automobile salesman. From this marriage, she had one daughter named Abigail. The marriage ended in divorce in 1927. Her daughter was adopted by her mother. Her second husband was Charles James Brenham whom she married on 11 August 1928. This marriage too ended in divorce. In 1936, she met newspaperman Clark G. Lee, and she followed him to Tokyo when he was transferred there in 1938. They were married in Hong Kong that same year. They lived together in Tokyo and Shanghai until she returned to Hawaii in August 1941. They moved to Pebble Beach in California in 1946. Her husband died of a heart attack in 1953 and Lydia once again returned to Hawaii. In 1954, she married Charles E. Morris Jr, but their marriage too ended in divorce in 1959. They remarried in 1968.
Liliuokalani remained devoted to Hawaii her entire life. She was active in the Hawaiian Civic Clubs and served on the Hawaiian Homes Commission. She was also a member of the Kaahumanu Society and the Daughters of Hawaii. In 1965, she was named head of the Iolani Palace restoration project.
In 1967, she was diagnosed with cancer. She tried to continue her activities for the Iolani Palace project but also spent much time in the hospital. She died on 19 May 1969 at the age of 63. At her request, the funeral was conducted without pomp and ceremony.
She was later described by Governor John A. Burns with the words, “A vital and colourful chapter in Hawaii’s history comes to a close with the passing of Liliuokalani Kawananakoa Morris. All Hawaii mourns her death. As the last of her generation of the Kalakaua dynasty, Mrs Morris was one of the leading alii2 of our islands. Her regal grace and dignity impressed all who were privileged to know her. She continually strove to set the highest example for her people so that they would be inspired to the greatness that is their heritage. Her contributions to the welfare of the Hawaiians and the island she loved so dearly have been substantial indeed.”3