Buckingham Palace Will Not Repatriate Prince's Remains

Captured Ethiopian Prince Alemayehu died in 1879
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 12:45 PM CDT
Buckingham Palace Will Not Repatriate Prince's Remains
   (Wikimedia Commons / Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Public domain)

Buckingham Palace has declined requests to repatriate the remains of Prince Dejatch Alemayehu of Abyssinia, the region now largely made up of Ethiopia. NBC News reports the prince was forcibly taken from his homeland at the age of six in 1868, after British forces defeated his father, Emperor Tewodros II, and looted his imperial capital. Alemayehu was then brought to England. He died at 18 in 1879, and his remains were buried at Windsor Castle.

There have been requests for the return of Alemayehu's remains since his death nearly 150 years ago, with a formal one made by the country's president in 2007. While Buckingham Palace expressed its sensitivity towards the need to honor Prince Alemayehu's memory, in a Tuesday statement it cited the potential disturbance of other resting places in the vicinity as part of its reasoning for declining the request, reports the Daily Beast. This has stirred emotions around the world but especially in Ethiopia, with Fasil Minas, a descendant of the Abyssinian royal family and a relative of Alemayehu, expressing a strong desire for the Prince's remains to be returned to his birthplace.

The story of Alemayehu's life in England is a poignant one, as noted in Maaza Mengiste's 2015 Guardian essay making the case for repatriation. After the prince's arrival in England, Queen Victoria arranged for his studies at elite schools and a military training academy despite his own continued requests to be allowed to go home. His life was cut short when he died from a lung condition. The late prince's plight—a child stranded in a foreign land—resonates deeply with many who learn about him. It even appeared to move Victoria, who wrote in her journal that his death was "too sad! All alone, in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him." (More history stories.)

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