After the failure in sending Hoang Ke Viem to Quang Binh to persuade King Ham Nghi and his courtiers to surrender, the French dethroned King Ham Nghi and complied with the Tri-Residences to put Prince Chanh Mong (Lord Kien Thai’s son, the second adopted son of King Tu Duc) onto the dragon throne with the dynastic title of Dong Khanh King.
The historical irony seemed to be repeated. In the past, King Quang Trung and Gia Long, originally “two mortal enemies”, were two sons in law of a family (Le Ngoc Han and Le Ngoc Binh were two sisters). Now, Ham Nghi and Dong Khanh king, two brothers, became enemies, too. Another special thing was that Lady Le Ngoc Binh got married to two kings (Quang Toan and Gia Long) and now Lord Kien Thai’s three sons all became kings successively: Kien Phuc, Ham Nghi and Dong Khanh. So, there was a folk poem spread in the public as followed:
Three kings were born in one family
One is alive, another dead and another more away for refuge.
The living King was Dong Khanh king (staying 3 years on the throne), the dead one King Kien Phuc (7 months) and the refugee King Ham Nghi (1 year on the throne, then dethroned because of organizing the Movement of Protecting the King-ship against the French).
The title “Dong Khanh” means “the joy for the entire nation”. He ascended the throne was a symbol of the harmony between the Vietnamese Court and the French Government. In fact, so it didn’t seem.
Normally, Prince Chanh Mong thought to succeed to the throne right after King Duc Duc and Hiep Hoa had been dethroned and killed. However, the two then regents, Ton That Thuyet and Nguyen Van Tuong, didn’t agree because Prince Chanh Mong was then old enough not to be easily controlled. As a result, they chose his younger brother, Kien Phuc (13 of age) instead.
When the King Kien Phuc passed away, they chose Ham Nghi (14 of age and not King Tu Duc adopted son). Finally, after dethroning Ham Nghi, the throne was empty and they reluctantly elected Prince Chanh Mong (22 of age) new king. Before selecting Chanh Mong, the Hue Court had come to a rather careful agreement with the French Government. Queen Mother Tu Du (Tu Duc’s mother), some royal relatives and Regent Nguyen Huu Do chose Chanh Mong (with a private reason: Chanh Mong was Do’s son-in-law) whereas Regent Phan Dinh Binh and some others chose Prince Buu Lan (King Duc Duc’s son and Regent Binh’s maternal grandson). So, after becoming new king, he bore a grudge against Regent Binh, leading to the latter’s tragic death later.
When having finished the choice of the heir to the throne, General De Courcy on behalf of the Hue Court and the French Government arranged all the problems, planning a schedule for the king coronation.
Book a private car with Hura to explore Hue city 1 day and Dong Khanh king tomb also.