BIRMINGHAM, England (AA): Buckingham Palace has refused to return the body of a teenage Ethiopian prince who had been forcibly brought to Britain and eventually buried at Windsor Castle 144 years ago.
A descendant of Prince Alemayehu – the boy was an orphan. The British government claims that he was “adored and supported financially” by Queen Victoria until he died of a pre-existing condition at the age of 18. Ethiopia has demanded that his remains be returned to his native country.
However, Buckingham Palace has rejected the call, saying that removing the body would affect others buried in the catacombs of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
“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 palace said.
In 2019, Ethiopian Ambassador to London Fesseha Shawel Gebre urged Queen Elizabeth II to consider how she would have felt if one of her relatives was buried in a foreign land.
“Would she happily lie in bed every day, go to sleep, having one of her Royal Family members buried somewhere, taken as prisoner of war? I think she wouldn’t,” Fesseha said.
She insisted that the boy had been “stolen” from Ethiopia by British colonial forces.
The Ethiopian government has previously said that it will repeat its demand at every meeting its ministers have with their British counterparts.
Prince Alemayehu was the only legitimate son of Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II. He was brought to the UK at 7 after his father died by suicide in 1868, following his defeat by British troops at the battle of Magdala in Ethiopia.
Alemayehu died of a lung condition at just 18, in 1879, and the queen is said to have arranged his burial at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.