Have you ever stayed awake at night thinking about what it would be like if a 91-year-old Hawaiian Princess with capacity issues and a trust worth $200 million dollars married her private secretary? Well wave good bye to your insomnia because you’re in luck…
On October 1, 2017, 91-year-old Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa (“Princess Abigail”) married her 64-year-old partner Veronica Gail Worth (“Worth”) in a private ceremony in Manoa, Hawaii. The marriage regarded by many to be predatory in nature (and by some to be true love), comes only three and a half months after Princess Abigail suffered a stroke. The nuptials also come in the midst of a heated legal battle over the control of Princess Abigail’s $200 million dollar estate.
Princess Abigail is one of the last surviving members of the family that once comprised Hawaii’s monarchy, the Royal House of Kawānanakoa. As such, she is the direct descendant to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Although her title is not official and she wields no power or influence, she is referred by many as a Princess. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, it unceremoniously ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani (Princess Abigail’s great-grand aunt). As her closest living relative, Princess Abigail is considered to be the heir apparent who would assume the throne if the Hawaiian monarchy was ever restored.
Thanks to her great-grandfather, James Campbell, Princess Abigail was also the beneficiary of a large fortune. Campbell, a 19th-century sugar cane industrialist who made his fortune in Hawaii, died in 1900 with an estate worth $3 million at the time. Over the years the Campbell Estate, topped out over $2 billion in 2007 when the Estate was quickly converted into corporate holdings (James Campbell Co.). Princess Abigail subsequently inherited roughly $250 million, mostly in the form of stock in the James Campbell Corporation. Today, her resulting trust fund is estimated to be worth $200 million.
Princess Abigail and Ms. Worth, her partner and private secretary, had been in a relationship for 21 years. Unfortunately, prior to their marriage Princess Abigail suffered a stroke on June 18, 2017. Princess Abigail ‘s lawyer, James Wright, subsequently sought control of her trust on the basis that she was unable to manage her health, self-care, or financial matters. He stated publicly that he acted to protect Princess Abigail from “opportunists and interlopers,” and alleged that she was the victim of both physical abuse and financial exploitation by Ms. Worth.
Mr. Wright accused Ms. Worth of separating from Princess Abigail (prior to their marriage) after Ms. Worth’s request for $26 million in James Campbell Co. stock was denied by the Princess. Court documents indicate that Mr. Wright is asserting the position that Ms. Worth only rekindled her relationship with the Princess after learning of her stroke. As a result, a bitter court battle has ensued over questions of whether Princess Abigail was mentally capable of managing her vast fortune. If Princess Abigail is deemed to have capacity, her rights to make her own medical and financial decisions will likely be restored. If not, the trust that she put in place in the past, naming her longtime attorney as trustee would likely be upheld.
At this point in time, no one has stepped forward to challenge the validity of the marriage between the Princess and her secretary. However, one would think that it is only a matter of time before this occurs. For more information on predatory marriages please read Kimberly Whaley’s paper entitled “Predatory Marriages: Legal Capacity to Marry and The Estate Plan”.