But not the thrones. In a room resplendent with crimson and gold, two thrones stand side by side. They are originals, and they are unrestored. "They're identical," Chu said, "so we're not 100% sure which was the king's and which was the queen's." This room invites you to linger and ponder how the monarchy unraveled in a place of such innovation: electricity before the White House had it; telephones; indoor plumbing; dumbwaiters. It had everything but a fairy-tale ending.

Iolani Palace, 364 S. King St., Honolulu; (808) 538-1471 (for recorded information), http://www.iolanipalace.org. Guided tours (reservations required [808] 522-0832) $20 for adults, $6 for children 5-12; self-led and audio tours $13 and $5, respectively.

Washington Place

"It is a large, square, white house, with pillars and porticos on all sides, really a palatial dwelling, as comfortable in its appointments as it is inviting in its aspect," Queen Liliuokalani wrote of Washington Place in her book, "Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen."

Before and after Liliuokalani's ascension to the throne in 1891, Washington Place was her home. The elegant Greek Revival dwelling was owned by Capt. John Dominis, a seaman, and his wife, Mary. It was completed in 1847, a year after Dominis was said to have been lost at sea.

Their son, John, attended the Chiefs' Children's School, or the Royal School, established by missionaries for children of royal blood. (Absent any royal blood, Dominis' admission remains something of a mystery.) It was there that he met a student named Lydia Kamakaeha, who would become his wife — and the last reigning monarch. Washington Place was her home more for more than a half-century.

Given the Hawaiian history, Washington Place may seem an odd choice for a name, but it was so decreed for perpetuity by Kamehameha III and so it has remained. Today, the home, which is open for tours by appointment, is "decorated very much like it was during the queen's time," said Corinne Chun Fujimoto, the curator of Washington Place. "That's what we are trying to do: bring the house back to the time of the queen and bring her music back." Her music, of course, included "Aloha Oe," or "Farewell to Thee," one of scores of pieces she wrote.

In Washington Place, a grand piano sits as though ready for the queen herself, a tall kahili in the background. Besides the piano, she played organ, guitar and autoharp, thanks to her musical training at the Royal School. "She understands it's the culture that will take her people to the future," Chun Fujimoto said.

Of this home, the queen wrote in her memoir: "It is, in fact, just what it appears, a choice tropical retreat in the midst of the chief city of the Hawaiian Islands." That is as true now as it was then, and definitely worth the time to get to know the home of the only reigning Hawaiian queen, who loved children but had none of her own and who loved her kingdom but stepped aside to spare her people a full-bore war.

Washington Place, 320 S. Beretania St., Honolulu; (808) 586-0240, http://www.lat.ms/RkiuIk. Appointment required; email Cameron.Heen@hawaii.gov. No cost but donation for preservation accepted.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

If you look today at the Queen Emma Summer Palace, you see a graceful home set against the lush backdrop of Nuuanu Valley. If things had turned out differently, you might be watching a baseball game being played here instead of seeing how history played out.

Like many structures, this one had fallen into disrepair and was slated, along with its 65 acres, to become a ball field until the Daughters of Hawaii intervened in 1915 and turned it into a showpiece.

The palace, about three miles from downtown, is filled with beautiful artifacts, some original to the abode that Queen Emma and her husband, King Kamehameha IV (who became king after his predecessor's death in 1854) used as an escape from Honolulu's heat. You'll see a koa bed that has its own safe-deposit boxes, of a sort, built into it; a Chinese porcelain bathtub; and a necklace that was a gift from the maharajah of India.

But none is as compelling as the cradle in which the king and queen's son, Prince Albert, slept. The koa wood piece, crafted by German woodworker Wilhelm Fischer, resembles a half an egg, as though a protection against the dangers of childhood.

Ravaged by disease and perhaps a weakened gene pool, the number of Hawaiians dwindled rapidly after missionaries arrived about 1820. In the 1830s, there were 124,000 Hawaiians; by the 1880s, only 44,000 remained. Prince Albert's birth was reason enough for joy, and his survival past his first birthday gave the kingdom hope for the future of the monarchy.

If you're a student of this history now, you know that the next Kamehameha was a brother, not a son. The young boy in whom the people had placed their hope died in 1862. He was 4 years old. His father, grief-stricken, died 15 months later. After their deaths, Queen Emma was given the nickname Kaleleonalani, "flight of the heavenly ones."

Queen Emma Summer Palace, 2913 Pali Highway, Honolulu; (808) 595-3167, http://www.daughtersofhawaii.org. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, except holidays. Docent-guided tours $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and older), $1 for children (younger than 18); self-guided tours are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $1 for children.

Mauna Ala

After Albert's death, Kamehameha IV ordered a new mausoleum built to house his son. Mauna Ala ("fragrant mountain"), the Royal Mausoleum, is not far from the Summer Palace.

"These grounds were special to the Hawaiian people, especially the Kamehameha family," said Kainoa Daines of the Oahu Visitors Bureau, an active member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, responsible for ceremonial protocols. "It was at this very spot … where Kamehameha's army met Kalanikupule's army [in 1705], and blood was shed for the first time. It was a pivotal place, a very pivotal battle in the unification of the islands."

The bodies of other royals, who were in the burial mound at Iolani, were moved here in 1865. "From 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. the commoners were told to stay inside their house" because they didn't have the rank — the mana — to witness the procession, Daines said. To muffle the sounds of beasts and the wagons they pulled, the streets were lined with pili grass (often used in thatch work), and all of the caskets were moved into what was then the mausoleum and what is now the chapel.

Soon the mausoleum wasn't large enough, so one crypt was built for the Kamehamehas (except Kamehameha I, whose body was hidden) and one for the Kalakauas. (Lunalilo also is not here; he's buried at Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu.)

Mauna Ala is a who's who of Hawaiian royalty, and it was humbling to stand before them. Daines chanted and placed leis at the Kalakaua and Kamehameha crypts. A light rain fell as he bent to put the flowers on the pink granite monument that marks the tomb of the Kamehamehas.

Making sure to face the tomb, he stepped backward, saying softly, "It's for all of us."

Mauna Ala Royal Mausoleum, 2261 Nuuanu Ave., Honolulu; http://www.lat.ms/WqNvvC. Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Admission is free.