Protesters 'reinstate' the king of Hawaii

Tourists were turned away from the Iolani Royal Palace in Honolulu yesterday as authorities assessed the damage from its brief occupation by protesters claiming they had reinstalled the islands' king on the Hawaiian throne.

The takeover began late on Friday and lasted for two hours before state policeentered the palace grounds to bring it to an end. Officials said that 22 people had been arrested and 14 charged with trespassing. Others faced charges of burglary after forcing their way into the building, allegedly knocking aside and slightly hurting one employee along the way.

When the protest began, Kippen de Alba Chu, the executive director of the Friends of the Iolani Palace, said: "They've got a king and the king wants to sit on the throne."

The palace, built in 1882 when the archipelago was still a constitutional monarchy, is symbolic for a variety of political protest groups on the islands who insist that Hawaii should secede from the United States and become a kingdom again.

A group identifying its leader as King Akahi Nui claimed responsibility for the latest incursion. They distributed an "occupation public information bulletin" after the break -in.

It stated that "Majesty Akahi Nui, the King of Hawaii, has now reoccupied the throne of Hawaii. The Kingdom of Hawaii is now re-enacted". King Nui says he was crowned in 1998.

In April, a different sovereignty group calling itself The Hawaiian Kingdom Government staged a sit-in on the palace grounds. It continues to set up there each weekend with permits from the authorities and claims to run a government.

Hawaii formally became the 50th American state in 1959. Iolani Palace was built for King Kalakaua, who passed the throne to Queen Liliuokalani, the islands' last ruling monarch.

She was imprisoned in the palace after the US-supported overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.