You may not have realized that there was ever a monarchy of sorts in the United States — and it’s currently wrapped up in some serious drama.
The state of Hawaii was once home to a historic monarchy, Royal House of Kawānanakoa. The family is in possession of a large fortune, referred to as the Campbell Estate, a trust of land and money that was first established at the beginning of the 20th century. It was cashed out in 2007, and 91-year-old Abigail Kawānanakoa, a descendant of the Royal House of Kawānanakoa, was one of its beneficiaries. She is one of the last few living members of the House of Kawānanakoa.
Kawānanakoa is one of the last surviving members of the family that once comprised Hawaii’s royalty, and is often called a princess — though her title is not official, as the monarchy was overthrown in 1893.
Kawānanakoa, who is in possession of part of the large Campbell Estate, suffered a stroke earlier this year, and passed control of her estate to her lawyer, James Wright, a decision that was approved by a Hawaiian judge.
A new wrinkle, however, has developed: Hawaii’s Attorney General began an investigation into claims by both Kawānanakoa and Wright. Kawānanakoa herself sent a letter to Hawaii News Now, in which she claims she fired Wright and is capable of making her own financial choices, according to the outlet. Her current lawyer, a former Hawaii attorney general, claims the letter is genuine, according to Forbes. A spokesperson for Wright confirmed that he no longer has a professional relationship with Kawānanakoa following the hearing where he was given control of the estate. (Before the hearing, there was still a professional relationship between the two, the spokesperson says.)
“From my understanding, there is no professional relationship now, however Mr. Wright was still granted successorship of the trust,” the spokesperson told PEOPLE. “I believe there was a letter that was given to him informing him that no more professional ties between the two would exist.”
In her corner is Veronica Gail Worth, 63, Kawānanakoa’s longtime partner, who is arguing that Kawānanakoa is capable of handling her own estate — which is worth nearly $200 million. Worth claims “[the] heiress is still capable of making financial decisions.”
Adding even more drama to the situation, Wright claimed that Worth has been abusive to Kawānanakoa, according to Hawaii News Now, who obtained images of the woman’s arm badly bruised. Wright also allegedly gave the photos to the state’s Attorney General’s office, asking for an investigation into any potential abuse, Hawaii News Now reports. Wright had previously alleged that Worth had been exploiting Kawānanakoa’s finances for the gains of her own charitable foundation, also according to Hawaii News Now. Worth denies these allegations, and her lawyer says that it’s curious that the photos, which are a year old, are just turning up now.
“That the photo turned up a year later is unbelievably suspicious,” Worth’s lawyer, Michael Rudy, said. “If someone had this evidence, they should have turned it in a year ago.”
Worth does, however, receive an income of $700,000 per year, and has previously asked Kawānanakoa for a guaranteed income of $50,000 per month for the rest of her life, Hawaii News Now reports. The pair have been partners for over two decades.
In order to determine if Kawānanakoa can handle her own estate, she will be examined by three independent doctors who will make the final call, according to Royal Central. Wright’s spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE that in the coming weeks, Wright will be asking the court to appoint and independent medical expert to review Kawānanakoa’s health.