Ethiopians celebrate historic return of Emperor Tewodros’ Hair

21 Mar 2019

Young Prince Alemayehu remembered during visit to his resting place in Windsor

At a ceremonial hand-over that took place on Wednesday 20th March at the United Kingdom’s National Army Museum in Chelsea, London, Ethiopians, friends of Ethiopia and the media witnessed the long-awaited return of hair taken from one of Ethiopia’s most popular Emperors, Tewodros II.

This historic moment follows discussions between the Ethiopian Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Fesseha Shawel Gebre, and the Director of the National Army Museum, Brigadier Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE.

On behalf of the People and Government of Ethiopia, Her Excellency Dr. Hirut Kassaw, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport, received the human remains in a box covered with the Ethiopian flag from the Museum’s Director, with the crowd ululating in jubilation.

Speaking on the occasion, H.E. Dr Hirut applauded the National Army Museum, and its Board of Trustees, for the brave and principled decision to return the Emperor’s hair to its rightful home, adding that she hoped that the United Kingdom and Ethiopia will be able to build on this supreme gesture of goodwill in the years to come.

Finally, the Minister called on all museums and collectors who retain Maqdala heritage in their collections to return all Maqdala artefacts to their rightful home.

“For Ethiopians, these are not simply artefacts or treasures but constitute a fundamental part of the existential fabric of Ethiopia and its people,” she said. “[I urge] all concerned to consider the intrinsic value of the items in their collections which are of far greater significance to Ethiopians than to those who removed them.”

“Whatever the future holds, I have no doubt that the relationship between our two countries will continue to go from strength to strength. A fact underlined by the substance and spirit of today’s ceremony,” she concluded.

Brigadier Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE, Director of the Museum said: “The Abyssinian Expedition of 1868 was a sad chapter in our shared history.  A chapter characterised by miscalculation and misjudgment on both sides.  But this campaign does not represent the totality of a long history of friendship and mutual respect between our two ancient kingdoms.  In fact, 72 years after Emperor Tewodros II committed suicide, British and Ethiopian forces fought alongside each other as allies in the liberation of Ethiopia from Italian occupation…We hope that in some small way this act will serve to reinforce the deep and strong friendship that exists between our two countries.

…Prince Alemayehu Remembered

On Thursday 21st March, H.E. Dr. Hirut Kassaw and her delegation visited St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle – the resting place of the remains of Prince Alemayehu, son of Emperor Tewodros II.

On behalf of the People and Government of Ethiopia, the Minister laid a wreath of remembrance on the young Prince’s grave before observing a minute’s silence and prayers.

Welcoming the Minister and her delegation, The Reverend Dr. Mark Powell, Canon of Windsor, led the delegation through a tour of the chapel where they were shown a brass plaque remembering Prince Alemayehu, as well as the Coat of Arms of Emperor Haile Selassie I commemorating his membership of the British Order of the Garter.

In discussions that followed with the Canon of Windsor, the Minister requested the remains of Prince Alemayehu be repatriated to his homeland in Ethiopia so that he could be reunited with his father’s remains and with the people of Ethiopia. The Minister asked for her request to be passed on to all concerned bodies so that it could be addressed as soon as possible.

—ENDS—

The Minister’s full speech can be found on our website at http://bit.ly/NAM_HKSpeech.

Background:

Born in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia, Tewodros II was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1855 until his death in 1868.

The locks of hair were taken from Emperor Tewodros after he heroically committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner by the invading British army in April 1868 during the battle of Maqdala.

The Emperor is held in high esteem by Ethiopians who recognise him as the founding father of modern Ethiopia, as he began the transformation of the state. The Emperor is buried at the Mehabere Selassie Monastery in his native Quara, in Northern Ethiopia.

After the Battle of Maqdala, Emperor Tewodros’ son, Prince Alemayehu, was taken to Britain, under the care of Captain Tristram Speedy. He died from pleurisy at the tender age of 18, in Leeds, and is buried within the precinct of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

In 2007, the Government of Ethiopia submitted a request to Her Majesty The Queen for the return of Alemayehu’s remains for reburial in Ethiopia.

For more information, please contact the Press Office on:

E: press@ethioembassy.org.uk| T: 020 7838 3880/3

www.ethioembassy.org.uk

Latest News

Browse all
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held discussions with political parties and civil society organizations in the presence of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, on the upcoming elections scheduled for mid-2021. The highly anticipated and historic election is noted as the most consequential election in its demonstration of Ethiopia’s democratization journey initiated in 2018.
2 Dec 2020
Elections 2021 discussions with Political Parties and Civil Society Organisations
On Wednesday, 25th November 2020, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Mr Demeke Mekonnen, met and held discussions with his British counterpart, The Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, to deliver a message from the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr Abiy Ahmed.
26 Nov 2020
Deputy Prime Minister assures UK Government of Commitment to Ensure Peace and Security of the People of Ethiopia
The Federal Government is committed to responding to the needs of citizens in the Tigray Region expeditiously. In partnership with the relevant agencies, the government will continue to extend protection and humanitarian assistance to those in need.
26 Nov 2020
Developments on Humanitarian Assistance in Tigray Region
The findings by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on the grave human rights violations perpetrated by TPLF forces in Maikadra are heart-wrenching. The report is a confirmation of the earlier report by Amnesty International on the same incident. 
24 Nov 2020
Federal Government Condemns the atrocities committed by TPLF in Maikadra
We are aware of a doctored letter on Embassy letterhead being circulated online among TPLF-affiliated digital media outlets claiming to be from the Embassy – please note, this document is FAKE and contains false information.
20 Nov 2020
FAKE DOCUMENT ALERT! Embassy Warns Against Spread of Misinformation
The current law enforcement operations in Tigray primarily targets the disgruntled, reactionary and rogue TPLF members clique that have been destabilising Ethiopia. As such, the Federal government intends to put an end to the deadly crime spree of this group within TPLF, which has also affected the people of Tigray.
18 Nov 2020
Distinguishing TPLF from the People of Tigray
በትግራይ ክልል የህግ የበላይነትን በማስከበር ላይ የሚገኘውን የሀገር መ/ሰራዊት ለመደገፍ የቻላችሁትን የገንዘብ መጠን እንድትለግሱ በአክብሮት እየጠየቅን ለተጨማሪ መረጃ ቀጠዩን ማስፈንጠሪያ መጠቀም የምትችሉ መሆኑን እንገልጻለን።
17 Nov 2020
የድጋፍ ጥሪ!
The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia continues to undertake the irreversible task of enforcing the rule of law in the Tigray region, which it commenced last week following the treasonous attacks by the TPLF on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).
15 Nov 2020
Government Continues to Enforce Rule of Law in Tigray
Statement by Prime Minister Abiy on recent developments in Ethiopia's Tigray Region.
9 Nov 2020
Putting an End to Impunity: The Case for Enforcing Federal Laws in Tigray
Following the premeditated and surprise attacks on the National Defense Forces Northern Command launched by TPLF in the early hours of November 4, the government has initiated a large-scale law enforcement operation in the region per Federal mandate and responsibility according to Article 51 of the Constitution.
6 Nov 2020
Updates on the unfolding developments in Ethiopia