Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Frederik's body unclaimed for five hours

May 15, 1912

The body of late King Frederik VIII of Denmark was unclaimed for five hours in a Hamburg morgue, the New York Times is reporting.

The King died at 11:00 p.m., last night, after being "stricken with apoplexy" while walking alone in Hamburg.  He died in a taxi cab, "alone except for the policeman, who had picked him up as he was staggering back to his hotel, 300 yards away."

The policeman did not recognize the king, so he took the body to a municipal hospital, where the authorities "consigned the body to a public morgue," where it lay "forgotten and unattended for five hours among eight other unrecognized corpses."

The King had been accompanied to Hamburg his wife, Queen Louise, and three of their children, Prince Gustav and Princesses Thyra and Dagmar."  It was not until the King's body was found at the morgue and brought to the hotel at 4 a.m., did Queen Louise and her children "learn of the King's death."

The Queen had assumed the her husband had "retired at his usual hour," and had not known that he had left the hotel for a evening stroll.

The body will be taken to Lübeck tomorrow by special train, and will be taken aboard the Danish royal yacht Dannebrog, which will be escorted by a Danish warship back to Copenhagen.

King Frederik and his family arrived in Hamburg from Frankfurt on Monday, having spent some time in Nice "to seek relief by change of air from the arteriosclerosis from which he had suffered in recent years."

He was traveling incognito as Count Kronberg.   According to observers, the Danish sovereign "looked and felt well" when he arrived in Hamburg.

Last evening, the King and Queen and their children dined at the Hamburger Hof Hotel.  Afterward the King went for a "customary stroll," unaccompanied.   He left the hotel shortly after 10 p.m.  

His valet waited for his return,  and after 2 a.m.,  the valet went downstairs to awake the hotel's manager, Carl Wache.   The manager got dressed and accompanied the valet to police headquarters to give an "accurate description of the King.  They were about to leave the police station, and search the local restaurants, thinking the King "had set out on some adventurous  trip of exploration," when of the officers mentioned a record of "some elderly, well-dressed man, identity unascertainable" had been found "staggering in the Goose Market, a major square in Hamburg. The police officer said that the man had died while be taken by taxi to the Harbor Hospital.

Wache asked for a detective, and they got into a taxi to take them to the Harbor Hospital.  It took some convincing to get the night watchman to get the doctor in charge, but eventually, the valet and Carl Wache were able to identify the late King's body.

It took a further two hours to persuade the Morgue's staff to release the body so that it could be taken back to the hotel in the "waiting cab." They arrived at the hotel at 4:30 a.m.   King Frederik "was laid on a simple single wooden bed."  His features were "composed and natural," his death had "come painlessly."

Queen Louise and the three children were awakened at 6 a.m., by the Lord Chamberlain, and were told of the King's death.  A half hour later, the Queen ordered flowers and she strewn her the coverlet covering her husband with red and white roses, Denmark's national colors.

Family members were also informed of the King's death.  Queen Louise received messages condolences from King George V and Queen Mary, from Queen Alexandra,  and other royals.  Kaiser Wilhelm II arrived shortly after 7 a.m., to offer his condolences to the newly widowed Queen.

No comments: