King Charles faces new calls to return the remains of a ‘stolen’ Ethiopian prince buried in Windsor Castle.
Prince Alamayu, a favorite of Queen Victoria, had been brought to Britain after his father, Emperor Tewodros II, committed suicide when British troops stormed his hilltop palace in northern Ethiopia in 1868.
Prince Alamayu was educated at Sandhurst Military Academy, but tragically died of pneumonia at the age of 18 in 1879 and was buried in catacombs next to Windsor’s St George’s Chapel.
In 2019, the Queen refused to allow the repatriation of his bones, but now a new book about his life has sparked renewed calls from campaigners for them to be returned.
However, experts have maintained it would be a mistake to move his bones now. Royal historian Hugo Vickers told MailOnline it would be “futile” to return his remains and explained that Queen Victoria “generously” received the prince as a “great honour”.
King Charles faces new calls to return the remains of a ‘stolen’ Ethiopian prince buried in Windsor Castle. A favorite of Queen Victoria, Prince Alamayu had been brought to Britain after his father, Emperor Tewodros II, committed suicide in 1868 when British troops stormed his hilltop palace in northern Ethiopia. He tragically died in 1879, just 18 years old.
The Ethiopian government first demanded the return of Alamayu’s remains in the 1990s.
But palace officials have insisted they can’t get them back without upsetting those of others.
Campaigner Alula Pankhurst, who sits on Ethiopia’s cultural restitution committee, said The times that the argument is just an “excuse not to deal with it.”
“Bringing this young man home means exposing uncomfortable truths that people don’t want to think about.”
New book The Prince and the Plunder, by Andrew Heavens, retells the story of the prince and his family.
It tells how Alamayu’s father, King Tewodros II, known as ‘Mad King Theodore’, wanted to befriend the British and wrote a letter to Queen Victoria in 1855.
After she failed to answer that and a follow-up letter, Tewodros held the British consul and several missionaries hostage in a high mountain prison.
A huge army of nearly 40,000 British troops was sent to rescue the 44 hostages. As the successful mission neared its end, Tewodros took his own life.
The Prince was buried in catacombs next to Windsor’s St George’s Chapel (pictured)
Prince Alamayu poses for a photo in western attire after being taken to Britain
The wife of Tewodros, the mother of Alamayu, died while descending the mountain, leaving her son an orphan.
Alamayu was placed in the care of the towering colonial officer Captain Tristram Speedy and brought back to Britain.
According to Speedy, Alamayu’s mother had told him that he “took my son and treated him like your own.”
Alamayu was taken to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to meet Queen Victoria, who later wrote in her diary that he was “a very fair face, a gracious boy with fair eyes, and a fair nose and mouth, though the lips were a little being fat’. ‘.
Although the Queen had wanted him to remain on the Isle of Wight, he first went to India with Speedy before the Treasury ordered that he receive a good education.
He was sent to Cheltenham and Rugby and then Sandhurst but struggled with his studies.
The prince contracted pneumonia when he fell asleep outside one night. After refusing to eat, he died while living in Headingly, in Leeds.
After learning of his death, Victoria wrote, “It’s too sad! All alone in a foreign land, without a single person or relative who belonged to him… His life was not a happy life, full of difficulties of every king.”
At his burial place is a plaque with the inscription: ‘I was a stranger and you took me in.’
Responding to calls for his remains to be returned, Mr Vickers said: “Queen Victoria has generously taken him in as a great honor and allowed him to be buried next to St George’s Chapel, and he should remain there because that’s what everyone wanted at the time. .’
Referring to the military coup that ended the reign of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie, Mr Vickers added: ‘I don’t know why they want him back as in Ethiopia they killed the last emperor in 1975.
‘Do they want their imperial family back so badly now?
“He had a pretty awful time, this poor prince. There’s no point in sending it back. I don’t understand why on earth they would want to do that.’
Fellow historian Alexander Larman added, “The palace is unyielding to this sort of thing.
“I suspect they won’t do anything because if they set a precedent, there will be other things they have to do.
“I’d be surprised if they ever do anything. It’s pretty standard policy with the royal family to ignore these things and hope they go away in due course.’
Buckingham Palace has been approached for comment. A spokesman previously said: “We are aware of this sensitive and complex issue and have been communicating with the Ethiopian government over the past few years.”
In 2019, Ethiopia’s ambassador to London, Fesseha Shawel Gebre, urged the Queen to think about how she would have felt if one of her relatives had been buried abroad.
“Would she happily lie in bed every day, go to sleep, bury one of her members of the royal family somewhere, taken prisoner?” he asked. “I don’t think she would.”
Alamayu was placed in the care of the towering colonial officer Captain Tristram Speedy and brought back to Britain. Above: The pair pictured together
Fast and Alamayu. The officer took the prince to India, before the Treasury ordered him to be sent to school and then to Sandhurst.
He insisted the boy had been “stolen.”
The Ethiopian government has previously said it will reiterate its demand in every meeting its ministers have with their British counterparts.
In 2007, the Ethiopian government wrote to the Queen asking for his body to be returned so that he could be buried next to his father.
“If he hadn’t been taken, if he hadn’t lost his father, he would have been the next king of Ethiopia,” Fesseha said earlier.
The embassy claimed a letter from the Queen’s private secretary said she sympathized, but there were concerns about disturbing the remains of others buried alongside him.
It is clear that more than 40 bodies were buried in the catacombs between 1845 and 1887. It is argued that it would therefore be impossible to identify and exhume his body.