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
FINTEX 2020, an international furniture, interior and finishing expo, will be held from 5 – 7 March 2020 at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, with the support of several Ministries in Ethiopia, local and international councils and trade associations.
2 Dec 2019
International Furniture and Interior Expo, FINTEX 2020, to be held in Addis
On 20th November, Sidama residents gathered peacefully to vote on whether there should be a new Sidama Regional State, within Ethiopia's federal system, or whether Sidama should remain as part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). They voted overwhelmingly – over 98% - in favour of change, so Sidama has officially become Ethiopia’s 10th regional state.
29 Nov 2019
Peaceful Referendum in Sidama, a sign of things to come in 2020!
According to the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, Ethiopia will launch its first-ever satellite into space on 17th December. The satellite will provide data on changes in climate and weather-related phenomena that will be used for agriculture, forestry and natural resource conservation activities.
26 Nov 2019
Ethiopia to launch first satellite in December
18-year old Berihu Aregawi and 20-year old Yalemzerf Yehualaw were the men’s and women’s winners at the 2019 Great Ethiopian Run – Africa’s biggest road race - staged in Addis Ababa on 17th November. Around 450 foreign runners took part this year, one of the highest numbers of overseas participants for the race.
20 Nov 2019
Aregawi and Yehualaw crowned champions at the 2019 Great Ethiopian Run
The Honourable Ms Meaza Ashenafi, the President of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia, led a delegation of senior Ethiopian judges on a first working visit to the United Kingdom in mid-November. The Chief Justice and her Delegation were visiting the United Kingdom for a series of meetings and consultations with the country’s senior judiciary and justice-sector institutions as part…
19 Nov 2019
Ethiopia’s Chief Justice on UK working visit
Tourism Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Embassy, Ethiopian Airlines and 20 of the country’s best tour operators, represented Ethiopia at the 40th World Travel Market in London. The event was an important opportunity to showcase Ethiopia’s tourism potential, maintain key industry relationships and build new ones.
15 Nov 2019
Ethiopia celebrated at World Travel Market
In their latest list of best places to travel in 2020, travel publisher and tailor-made trip provider, Rough Guides, has placed Ethiopia among the ‘4 Best Countries to Visit.’
13 Nov 2019
Ethiopia among Rough Guides Best Countries to Visit in 2020
Ethiopia has consistently championed the right of all countries on the Nile to equitably and reasonably utilise its waters. Ethiopia has remained an unflinching advocate for greater cooperation, negotiation and compromise on the Nile, in particular - a hallmark of our approach to all international challenges.
1 Nov 2019
Editorial: Technical Talks on GERD must and will succeed
On 29th October Ambassador Fesseha briefed an audience comprised of diplomats, civil servants, researchers and members at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, on Ethiopia’s domestic reforms and priorities in the Horn of Africa.
31 Oct 2019
Ambassador gives Briefing at Institute for Strategic Studies
British quadruple amputee, Alex Lewis, Ethiopian double amputee Emebet Dires, accompanied by the Wild Wheelchairs Project team successfully reached the Ras Dashen Summit at 4,533 metres on 6th October.
31 Oct 2019
THEY DID IT! UK and Ethiopian amputee duo ascend Ethiopia’s highest mountain