Minister O’Brien to the Secretary of State.

No. 68.]

Sir: About 5 o’clock on the 29th instant I sent you the following message:

King Christian died this afternoon at 3.40. Had worked until 1 feeling well. At luncheon felt weak and shortly afterwards died without pain. Dowager Empress of Russia and crown prince of Denmark present when he died.

The following morning I received from you this reply:

Convey through appropriate channel the sincere condolences of the President and of your country upon the death of His Majesty King Christian.

I am now able to give a little more accurately the exact conditions preceding the King’s death.

He had been unusually well, and during the morning had transacted much business and gave audience to about 50 people.

He went to his luncheon soon after 1 in high spirits. Besides the officers of the court, his daughter, the Empress Dowager of Russia, and brother, Prince Hans, and perhaps some others were present. During luncheon he drank part of a glass of port wine. He got up from the table feeling a little distress in his throat and went to his room. The ill feeling continued, and he undressed, without aid, and went to bed.

The Dowager Empress was in the adjoining room with an open door between. Thinking she heard heavy breathing, she stepped into the King’s chamber and found him already dead. No one was present at the end except as above, but it was very apparent that his death was quite painless.

Doctors were summoned, but of course were of no assistance. The news spread rapidly in the city and provoked a good deal of interest and excitement. Great numbers of people thronged the streets and surrounded the palace, but everything was most orderly and quiet.

At 12 o’clock yesterday, the 30th instant, a great crowd assembled in the Amalienborg Square, the number being variously estimated at from 10,000 to 20,000, as it had been announced that at that time the succession would be proclaimed. The announcement was made [Page 525] from the balcony of Amalienborg Palace by the prime minister, and the late crown prince made a short speech which was received with a good deal of enthusiasm.

I will send under separate cover a translation of the speech of the new King, and also of the open letter, or proclamation.

I beg to inclose herewith a copy of a letter from the minister of foreign affairs to me announcing the King’s death, and also a copy of my reply of the 30th instant, making known your telegram and my own comments in connection therewith.

The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made public and are probably not completed. It is given out, however, that the following will be present:

The King and Queen of England, Emperor of Germany, King George of Greece, the King and Queen of Norway, Grand Duke Michael of Russia, Duke and Duchess of Cumberland, and Duchess of Mechlenberg-Schwerin.

One or more of the ministers have already been designated by their Government as special representatives to attend the funeral.

I have, etc.,

T. J. O’Brien.
[Inclosure 1.]

Count Raben to Mr. O’Brien .


Mr. Minister: I am fulfilling the most painful duty which could have fallen to my lot, in transmitting to you the official news that God, in His impenetrable designs, has called to Himself his Majesty the King Christian IX. The King heaved the last sigh this afternoon at Amalienborg Palace at 3.20 o’clock, suddenly, and without suffering, in his eighty-eighth year and after a reign of more than forty-two years.

This death has been a cruel blow to the dearest affections of the royal family and plunges the whole country in the most profound and legitimate mourning. You have had the occasion a sufficient number of times, Mr. Minister, to note the invariable devotion which the august deceased bestowed on his people, and the sincere love and respect which they, on their side, vowed to him. You have been able to appreciate the high qualities which distinguished King Christian, and you will join me, I know, in our profound suffering.

King Frederick VIII has mounted the throne. His Majesty has been pleased to instruct me, sir, to make known to you his accession and his sincere desire to maintain and tighten the good relations which exist between Denmark and the United States of America.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,


Mr. O’Brien,
Minister of the United States of America.

[Inclosure 2.]

Minister O’Brien to Count Raben.

Excellency: I have your esteemed favor of yesterday conveying the mournful intelligence of the sudden death of your nation’s King, Christian IX.

The information was at once conveyed to my Government, and I have by the way of response the following telegram from Mr. Elihu Root, Secretary of State:

“Convey through appropriate channel the sincere condolences of the President and of your country upon the death of His Majesty King Christian.”

[Page 526]

No additional words of mine will have greater force than will be found in the language of the telegram itself, and I beg it will be given its strongest meaning.

The unexpected death of the King has come as a distinct shock, not only to the people of Denmark, but to the civilized world.

His Majesty, both personally and officially, was very dear to his people, while his pure life, his sweet nature, his unfaltering patriotism and honesty of purpose were well known to the people of my country, where he was both esteemed and loved.

He was a remarkable man and had a remarkable reign. It will well repay all those in whose charge are the destinies of the nations to consider at this time in what large measure human society has been blessed and elevated by his influence, and by what lofty ideals his life was governed and his actions determined. His service to the world has been beyond measure, while to his own people his life has been a benediction. My own admiration for the late King was very great, and by his death a distinct personal loss has been suffered.

Through the operation of the law and happily through the good will of the people of Denmark, the late crown prince has, by the death of his late Majesty become the King—Frederick VIII.

I read with the greatest pleasure your assurance of the desire of His Majesty to maintain with my Government the good relations which have heretofore existed between the two countries.

At a suitable opportunity I beg you will make known to His Majesty my thanks for this assurance, and that you will express to him my confidence that his hope in this direction will be fulfilled.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

J. T. O’Brien.