Buckingham Palace has declined calls to return the remains of a teenage Ethiopian prince who was buried at Windsor Castle 144 years ago.
Prince Alemayehu was the only legitimate son of Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II, a claimed descendent of the biblical king Solomon.
Alemayehu was taken by British soldiers after they raided his father’s imperial citadel after the Battle of Maqdala in 1868.
The prince died of a lung condition at 18 years-old in 1879, and was buried at Saint George’s Chapel at the request of Queen Victoria.
The descendants of the Ethiopian royal family have been calling for the prince’s remains to be returned to his homeland saying it was “not right” that he was buried in the UK.
Royal descendent Fasil Minas told the BBC “We want his remains back as a family and as Ethiopians because that is not the country he was born in.”
In a statement, Buckingham palace told the BBC removing the Prince’s remains would affect other bodies buried in the chapel saying ” 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 added that while they were sensitive to the need to honour Alemayehu’s memory, they also had “the responsibility to preserve the dignity of the departed.”
In 2006 former Ethiopian president Girma Wolde-Giorgis wrote to Queen Elizabeth II asking for the remains to be exhumed, but the request was rejected.
According to the Ethiopian embassy, the lord chamberlain replied on behalf of the queen saying “while Her Majesty was in favour of repatriation […] identifying the remains of young Prince Alemayehu would not be possible”.
The Prince’s body has been added to a grave at Saint George’s Chapel with nine others.
Photo Credit: Julia Margaret Cameron