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Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Last of the Ethiopian Emperors

Thirty years ago, Haile Selassie, Ethiopia's last emperor died after a rule of 45 years. Daniel Dickinson travels to Addis Ababa to visit the emperor's former palace and meets one of his servants.

Seventy-eight-year-old Mamo Haile is a man with stories to tell about British royalty, international diplomacy, famine, film stars and a coup d'etat.

He used to be one of Emperor Haile Selassie's personal servants, a man who was once too scared even to look the emperor in the eye, but who was later trusted with serving Queen Elizabeth II orange juice.

You will find him shuffling around the first floor of Ethiopia's Ethnographic Museum, Emperor Salassie's one-time palace.

He keeps dust from settling on his former employer's regal but not so king-size double bed.

BBC News


Did You Know?
On October 14, 1954: Ethiopian Emperor Visited the UK

Emperor Haile Selassie inspecting sailors at Portsmouth

WATCH the state visit by Emperor of Ethiopia accompanied by his second son the Duke of Harar

Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie has arrived in Portsmouth on the cruiser the Gambia.

His visit is part of a world tour, his first since his triumphant return to Ethiopia in 1941.

The Emperor was welcomed at Portsmouth on behalf of the Queen by the Duke of Gloucester, before boarding a special train to London.

His tour of the UK is expected to last a fortnight, which will include visits to schools and hospitals, the cities of Bath and Oxford, a debate in the House of Commons and lunch at 10 Downing Street.

On his arrival in Portsmouth warships flew the Ethiopian flag and cannons fired royal salutes. RAF Coastal Command staged a fly-past.

In London the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh received the Emperor at Victoria Station in a lavish red carpeted and curtained enclosure.

Crowds cheered the Emperor throughout his tour of the capital. His schedule included a visit to the Queen Mother at Clarence House and dignitaries from London City Council and the City of Westminster.

Welcoming him at the state banquet held in his honour the Queen said:

"We greet you as the Sovereign of an ancient Christian State which has many links with our own Church and...as the Sovereign of the country which was the first to regain its freedom during the last war."

Diplomatic analysts say Ethiopia is strategically important to Britain and the West for its geographical position, in terms of African and Commonwealth security.

The Ethiopian economy is receiving Western loans, aid and capital investment to develop its resources of oil and uranium, and bolster its exports, principally coffee.

The International Bank has lent £8.5 million towards transport and communications and British and US representatives are advising on Ethiopia's industry, social services and legal system.

At the state banquet, the Emperor spoke of his gratitude for Britain's help in liberating Ethiopia and his desire for continued warm relations between the two nations.

"Your support and the loyalty of the British people...make today the preservation and the strengthening of that friendship and affection a sacred trust."

bbc.co.uk

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