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Ethiopia's Prince Alemayehu: Buckingham Palace rejects calls to return remains from Windsor Castle

Buckingham Palace has rejected a request to return the remains of a teenage Ethiopian prince who was buried at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle more than 140 years ago.

Prince Alemayehu was the only legitimate son of Tewodros II, Emperor of Abyssinia, who killed himself in April 1868 after he was defeated by British troops at the battle of Magdala.

Following his father's death, the seven-year-old prince was brought to the UK by army officer and explorer Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy and they lived together on the Isle of Wight, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

Other reports said the child, who also lost his mother at a young age, was captured by the British.


The orphaned prince was presented to Queen Victoria who took a great interest in the child and often mentioned the boy, also known as Alamayou, in her diaries.

When he died in 1879 of pleurisy - inflammation of the tissue between the lungs and rib cage - at the age of just 18, Queen Victoria was deeply upset and at her request, he was buried at the chapel.

She remarked in her journal: "Very grieved & shocked to hear by telegram, that good Alamayou had passed away this morning. It is too sad! All alone, in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him […] Everyone is sorry."

Now his family has requested his remains be returned to Ethiopia.

"We want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians because that is not the country he was born in," one of his descendants, Fasil Minas, told the BBC.

"It was not right" for him to be buried in the UK, he said.

But a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said removing his remains could affect others buried in the catacombs of the chapel.

"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," they said.

'Responsibility to preserve the dignity of the departed'

The palace statement also said the Dean and Canons of Windsor are "very sensitive" to the need to honour Prince Alemayehu's memory, but that they also had "the responsibility to preserve the dignity of the departed".

"It is therefore, with regret, not possible to agree to the request."

It also said that in recent years the royal household had "accommodated requests from Ethiopian delegations to visit" the chapel.