The story of Prince Alemayehu is quite tragic. He had a difficult life and death, which is complicated even 144 years after his death. The British royal family is at the center of controversy over the fate of the remains of the young heir of Ethiopia.
Prince Alemayehu arrived in the United Kingdom after the tragedy that mourned his family and in circumstances that are still unclear. Some historians claim that he was kidnapped and others that the British army brought him to the UK to safety.
Who is Prince Alemayehu?
The heir to the throne set foot on British soil after his father, Emperor Tewodros II, committed suicide after being defeated by the United Kingdom in the Battle of Maqdala, fought by the British army to free missionaries and government representatives taken prisoner by the Ethiopian Empire after the failure to negotiate an alliance with the British Empire.
Alemayehu left his country in the company of his mother, Empress Truwork, but she died before he reached his destination. In 1868 the prince arrived on the British coast as an orphan.
The then Queen Victoria was moved by his life story and decided to protect him and pay for his life and education in the United Kingdom. The prince lived in that country for ten years until his death at the age of 18 from pleurisy.
Prince Alemayehu grave
The monarch ordered that he be buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the resting place of kings such as the late Queen Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This is what has sparked the controversy between the British royals and Alemayehu’s country of origin, which claims his remains.
Why don’t the royals want to hand over the remains of Prince Alemayehu?
Fasil Minas, one of the descendants of Ethiopian royalty, is the one claiming the prince’s remains. “We want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians because that is not the country he was born in, It was not right for him to be buried in the UK”, he told the BBC.
However, this is highly unlikely to happen due to the refusal of the royal family and it is all for a compelling reason.
“It is very unlikely that it would be possible to exhume the remains without disturbing the resting place of a substantial number of others in the vicinity,” the Buckingham Palace said.
The statement added that what the royal household has done in the past is to accept requests for visits to the crypt from Ethiopian delegations and to pay tribute to him there. In fact, there is a plaque in the chapel in honor of the late prince.