The Queen’s Speech, 1892.

I was going through my notes and I was rereading Speeches from the Throne, which were sort of like how the Americans have their State of the Union address except its done in the first day of the opening of a legislative session. This is an excerpt from Queen Lili’uokalani’s Speech From the Throne, May 28th, 1892, which would be her last:”…The decree of Providence and the Constitution of the Kingdom having called Me to occupy the Throne of Hawaii, it is my earnest prayer that Divine assistance may be vouchsafed to enable Me to discharge the duties of the exalted position to the advantage of My people and the permanent benefit of Hawaii…Fully recognizing that by the Constitution and laws of the Kingdom My station is that of a Constitutional Monarch, accepting the will of My people as pronounced by them through their representatives in the Legislature and My Constitutional Advisers the Ministers of the Crown, I shall firmly endeavour to preserve the autonomy and absolute independence of this Kingdom, and to assist in perpetuating the rights and privileges of all who are subject to Our laws and in promoting their welfare and happiness….”Its is interesting how the Queen used certain terms in the speech including “autonomy and absolute independence”, “rights and privileges”, and “welfare and happiness”. The Queen in choosing these words was sending a clear signal that she did recognize that she was a Constitutional Monarch but that her chief tasks were to “firmly” preserve the cherished independence of our nation and to promote the general happiness and welfare of her people even against opposition. It is not enough for a leader to simply promote rights and to preserve political independence but to continue indefinitely (perpetuate) the rights and privileges that the people, her people, had long fought for and gained under independence. But people on the top must also “assist” in perpetuating these hard won rights or else its simply lip service. Furthermore, what good is independence and rights if the general population is unhappy and living in a demeaning state such as being poverty-stricken, chronic joblessness, or facing discrimination in their own homeland? The Queen answers some of these questions later in her speech with the words “My Ministers will submit for your consideration the Reports of their several Departments and the las necessary for the welfare of the Kingdom and the promotion of the objects I have referred to.” Among the laws the Queen’s Ministers submitted was a bill calling for a Constitutional Convention, a law requiring the American military to leave Pearl Harbor (as they had violated the Reciprocity Treaty and were illegally building military structures), a National Lottery Bill, and a complete reform on the Crown and Government laws which would have created homestead settlements for Native Hawaiians and poor citizens, and the amend the “Primacy of the Pacific” resolution to affirm that the Hawaiian Kingdom was and not part of North America or Europe but of “Asia and Oceania”. These are some of the thoughts the Queen had when she wrote this short speech. She was seriously thinking about what is our identity as a nation and what does it mean to have “independence” and “rights”. It is humbling to think that over a 100 years ago, our leaders were thinking of these ideas. If only more pf us today would think of such relevant questions and develop plans to promote the general happiness and welfare of our people and everyone in Hawai’i who “subject to our laws”, as our leaders a century ago did.

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