Buckingham Palace has reportedly rejected a request to repatriate the remains of Prince Alemayehu, an Ethiopian royal who was brought to the UK as a child in the 19th century and is buried in the catacombs of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Prince Alemayehu was allegedly abducted and taken to England at the age of seven as an orphan after British soldiers looted his father’s imperial citadel and seized royal treasures following the Battle of Maqdala in 1868. He was cared for by Queen Victoria, who arranged for his education and his burial after his death at the age of 18.
However, the prince’s relatives want his remains to be returned to his homeland, with Fasil Minas, a descendant of the Abyssinian royal family, emphasizing that Ethiopia is his rightful home.
“We want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians because that is not the country he was born in,” Minas said, as cited by the BBC.
In response to the request, Buckingham Palace said removing Alemayehu’s remains could disrupt the resting places of numerous others interred at St. George’s 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,” the palace said in a statement quoted by the BBC.
The statement emphasized the sensitivity of the chapel authorities towards honoring the Ethiopian prince’s memory, while also maintaining the “responsibility to preserve the dignity of the departed.”
It further stated that the royal family had previously accommodated requests from Ethiopian delegations to visit the chapel.
For several decades, Ethiopians have been campaigning for the return of their royal. In 2007, Addis Ababa wrote to Queen Elizabeth II, asking that the prince’s bones be repatriated to Ethiopia, but the request was denied.