In 1890 he succeeded Count Herbert Bismarck as Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Caprivi chancellorship and continued to hold that office under Prince von Hohenlohe; but he had incurred the enmity of Prince Bismarck by refusing his advice when he first assumed office, and the result was a fierce press campaign against him which finally obliged him to speak out when he appeared as a witness at the trial of certain journalists in 1896 for lese-majeste.
Griffenfeldt, who was charged with simony, bribery, oath-breaking, malversation and lese-majeste, conducted his own defence under every imaginable difficulty.
The attacks on the king were repeated at the trial of the poet Guerra Junqueiro, who was indicted for lese-majeste.
The duration of the legislature was extended from three to five years; the liberty of the press was curtailed by the enactment that proprietors of political papers must pay to the government a deposit of 5000 dinars (£Zoo), and that the editors must have completed their studies at a university; the laws on lese-majeste were made more severe.
26 declares guilty of lese-majeste whomsoever shall in any way usurp or infringe the king's absolute authority.