Descendants of Prince Alemayehu, who perished in London as an orphan, demanded the Royal Family unearth and return his remains from Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace has no intention of returning the remains of an Ethiopian prince to his family.
According to The Evening Standard, descendants of Prince Alemayehu – who perished in London as an orphan after being kidnapped by Victorian explorer Captain Tristram Speedy – have demanded the Royal Family unearth and return his remains from Windsor Castle.
“We want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians,” one of the royal descendants, Fasil Minas, said, “because that is not the country he was born in.” Minas made his remarks to the BBC.
However, the Evening Standard reported a palace spokesperson rejected the request, stating that it is improbable that Alemayehu’s remains could be exhumed “without disturbing the resting place of a substantial number of others in the vicinity.”
Officials noted that while Windsor Castle wanted to honor Alemayehu’s memory, they also had a duty to uphold the dignity of those deceased. The statement asserted that the Royal Household had “accommodated requests from Ethiopian delegations to visit” his final resting place in Windsor’s church.
A bronze plaque bearing the inscription “I was a stranger and ye took me in” commemorates Alemayehu’s burial place in St George’s Chapel’s catacombs, The Standard asserts.
Alemayehu is thought to have been abducted while British troops pillaged the royal riches of Ethiopia, including priceless silks, gold regalia and jewelry, which needed 15 elephants and 200 mules to transport.
His capturer took him to Britain, where he attended Sandhurst, a boarding school and an officers’ training school. He died from a lung condition at the age of 18.
Queen Victoria described his brief existence as “too sad,” writing in her diary that he died alone in a distant land, without a relative or friend who belonged to him.
“His was no happy life, full of difficulties of every kind, and was so sensitive,” she reportedly wrote, “thinking that people stared at him on account of his color.”
At the Battle of Magdala in 1868, Alemayehu’s father, Emperor Tewodros II, chose suicide rather than being taken prisoner by the British, cementing his status as a national hero for many Ethiopians. His mother, Empress Tiruwork, fell ill and died the same year.
Mulugeta Aserate, the second cousin of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, declared that it was time to correct the wrongs of the previous millennium.
“The prince was a prisoner of war,” Aserate told Reuters in 2007, The Standard reported. “His return would ease the minds of lots of Ethiopians who believe his rightful resting place should be here with his father.”
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