UK returns Ethiopian Prince’s Lock of Hair after 140 Years

UK returns Ethiopian Prince's Lock of Hair after 140 Years

“A piece of hair from a young Ethiopian prince, who passed away over 140 years ago, has been given back to his home country in the UK.

In 1868, British soldiers took Prince Alemayehu away after invading the home of his father, Emperor Tewodros II. His father shockingly took his own life.

The young prince, only 18 years old, passed away in 1879 after a difficult life in Britain. He was laid to rest at Windsor Castle near London. Recent requests to return his body to Ethiopia were declined.

One of the prince’s relatives, Fasil Minas, hopes that this gesture of returning the prince’s hair might open the door for his body to be returned to Ethiopia.

  • UK rejects calls to return Ethiopian prince’s body

At a ceremony in London, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the UK, Teferi Melesse, received the lock of hair and other items that had been taken from Emperor Tewodros’s fortress, known as Maqdala. He welcomed their return, saying they belong where they can continue to inspire and educate future generations.

Ethiopia will keep pushing for the return of more items taken from the fortress.

The prince was taken to London when he was just seven years old, where he became an orphan. Queen Victoria sympathized with his situation and agreed to support him financially. She placed him under the care of Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy, who had accompanied the prince from Ethiopia.

The Scheherazade Foundation, which helped return the hair, revealed that it was originally in Captain Speedy’s possession. A descendant of Captain Speedy, Leonie Turner, handed over the hair in London, saying she felt it was time for it to go back to its rightful place.

Alula Pankhurst, a member of Ethiopia’s Heritages Restitution National Committee, welcomed the return of the hair but emphasized that this is just the beginning. He believes that returning Ethiopian artifacts taken during the 1868 British expedition to Magdala is essential for justice and could improve relations between British and Ethiopian institutions.

There have been long-standing requests to return the prince’s body, with a recent demand from his descendants in May. However, Buckingham Palace has rejected this request, citing concerns that exhuming the prince’s remains would disturb the resting place of others in the catacombs of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.”

 

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