Story: Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh: letter of gratitude (2nd of 2)

Attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh: letter of gratitude

A letter from Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, to the people of Australia, written on 19 March 1868, a week after the assassination attempt. Alfred expressed his gratitude for the numerous addresses of sympathy he had received, assuring Australians that he had no doubts of their loyalty to the Crown. The news of the assassination attempt led to a series of meetings in the various Australian colonies, with addresses of sympathy and loyalty being sent to the duke. With no telegraph link at this time, it took 10 days for the news to reach New Zealand. A similar round of meetings, bonfires, parades, patriotic songs and drawing up of loyal addresses occurred. In both Australia and New Zealand many prominent Irish Catholics were keen to express their loyalty and distance themselves from Fenianism. In the gold rush town of Hokitika, the assassination attempt exacerbated tensions between local British patriots and Fenians (Irish nationalists) who, only a few weeks earlier, had protested against the hanging of three Irish rebels in Manchester. Five leaders of the Hokitika Irish nationalists, including Father William John Larkin, were arrested for seditious libel on 27 March 1868.

The Duke of Edinburgh had been scheduled to visit New Zealand after his Australian tour. Instead he went directly back to Britain. Within a year he was back in the southern colonies, making the first royal tour of New Zealand in April 1869.

Government House
19th March 1868

I have received with sincere gratification these numerous addresses and desire to return my warm thanks for the expressions of sympathy, which they contain.

The cowardly act of one individual has not, in any degree, shaken my confidence in the loyalty of the people of this Colony toward the Throne and Person of Her Majesty, or in their affection for myself, and I shall gladly convey to the Queen the universal expression of horror and indignation, which the attempt to assassinate me has called forth from Her Majesty’s faithful subjects in Australia.


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State Library of New South Wales
Reference: Album ID: 824018

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How to cite this page:

Lance Beath, 'Terrorism and counter-terrorism - Terrorism and New Zealand: the historical background', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 July 2020)

Story by Lance Beath, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Mar 2019