Prince Alemayehu of Abyssinia

Picture: HIH Prince Alemayehu or Alamayou of Ethiopia (23 April 1861 – 14 November 1879) was the son of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. Emperor Tewodros II committed suicide after his defeat by the British, led by Sir Robert Napier, at the Battle of Magdala in 1868.


The son of Tewodros (Theodore) II of Ethiopia (then Abyssinia), Prince Dejatch Alemayehu was made an orphan in 1868 when the British attacked Magdala. He was brought to Britain as a political refugee and made a ward of the British Government who assigned him to the care of Captain Tristram Speedy and his wife. It is known that the young prince accompanied the couple to India.

At some stage he was introduced to Queen Victoria who took an interest in his general welfare. At the age of ten, against his own wishes and the queen’s desire, Alemayehu was sent to boarding school to be educated as a young English gentleman. At the age of 17 he was sent on to Sandhurst military college, the idea behind this was for him to become an officer of the Indian regiment. Victoria wrote that she retained her interest in Alemayehu and ‘his sad and homeless condition’, and that she hoped he would not be teased or made unhappy. 

Alemayehu was extremely unhappy at Sandhurst; he was not welcomed and he left within a year, fell ill and died. It is generally felt that the young man simply pined away.

It is all too sad, Queen Victoria recorded, ‘All alone in a strange country…he had no happy life, full of difficulties of every kind, and he was so sensitive, thinking people stared at him because of his colour…Everyone is very sorry’

At the wishes of the Queen, Prince Alemayehu was buried in St, George’s Chapel Windsor.

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