The remains of an Ethiopian prince who died in 1879, will remain buried at Windsor Castle, despite pleas from the boy’s descendants for his body to be returned to his home country.
The remains of Ethiopian Prince Alemayehu were buried in the catacombs at St. Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle in 1879, about 10 years after he was brought to England from Ethiopia following an incident that led to an invasion by English forces, the BBC reported.
Alemayehu was brought to the UK when he was 7 years old after his father, Emperor Tewodros II, was unsuccessful in forming an alliance with the UK in the late 1860s. According to Tewodros, the letters he sent to Queen Victoria were never answered.
Tewodros II became angry at the slight and took hostages – including Brits – to get the Queen’s attention. He got her attention, and she sent some 13,000 troops to rescue the hostages.
Tewodros did not want to be taken captive by the English and took his own life. Prince Alemayehu and his mother were to be taken back to England, but the empress died on the journey there.
Alemayehu, who was then an orphan, was introduced to Victoria upon his arrival in England. She agreed to pay for Alemayehu to stay in the UK and be educated there.
When Alemayehu was 18 he died, probably of pneumonia, and Victoria had him buried in Windsor Castle.
Various members of his family have requested his remains be returned through the years, according to the BBC.
The latest request for the return of the remains was denied because retrieving them would disrupt the resting places of other people buried in the catacombs of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, according to a statement sent from Buckingham Palace to the BBC,
“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 a statement.
According to the Ethiopian embassy, after a 2006 request to have the remains returned, the lord chamberlain replied on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, saying, “While Her Majesty was in favor of repatriation […] identifying the remains of young Prince Alemayehu would not be possible.”
The prince’s remains had been added to a grave at St George’s Chapel with nine others, The Guardian reported.
According to the palace, requests from Ethiopian delegations to visit the chapel had been accommodated.
Descendants of the Ethiopian royal family still want the young prince’s remains returned to Ethiopia.
“I feel for him as if I knew him. He was dislocated from Ethiopia, from Africa, from the land of black people and remained there as if he had no home,” Ethiopian royal descendent Abebech Kasa told the BBC.