Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia Desta

Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia Desta

Her Imperial Highness Princess Sophia Desta
January 25, 1934 – November 11, 2021

Emebet-Hoy Hannah Mariam Meherete Selassie Dereje has released the following statement on the passing of her mother, Her Highness Princess Sophia Desta, who will be deeply missed. Our condolences go to Hannah and to the rest of Princess Sophia’s family.

Princess Sophia (then titled Emebet-Hoy) was born in Jimma, Ethiopia on January 25, 1934 to Ethiopia’s great war hero Ras Desta Damtew, and Her Imperial Highness Princess Tenagnework Haile Selassie. Princess Sophia was thus a granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw. When Ethiopia was occupied by the forces of Fascist Italy in 1935-1941 her father Ras Desta Damtew remained behind to lead Ethiopian forces on the southern front. He was captured and summarily executed by the fascists in February 1937. Her mother Princess Tenagnework was forced to go into exile with her children and the rest of the Imperial family to avoid capture by the fascist forces. The family first went to Jerusalem where the young Emebet-Hoy Sophia and her cousin Princess Ejegaheu Asfawossen spent their childhood. Princess Sophia later attended school in Alexandria, Egypt and afterwards joined her sisters to continue her education at Clarendon School in the United Kingdom.

Emebet-Hoy Sophia pursued her higher education at Froebel Institute at the University of Roehampton where she graduated with a BA in Education majoring in teaching. She was married in January 1959 in Addis Abeba to Captain Dereje Haile Mariam, son of war hero Haile Mariam Mamo, and was elevated by her grandfather Emperor Haile Selassie to the rank of Princess. She was widowed when Captain Dereje was killed fighting to put down the attempted Imperial Guard coup d’état of December 1960.

Princess Sophia Desta established a private institution, the Entoto International School which she ran personally. The school offered scholarships for students who came from underprivileged backgrounds thus giving them opportunities to achieve higher quality education. She was also involved in the many philanthropic efforts of the Imperial family including establishing Cheshire Ethiopia and working with the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) which provided support and training for young Ethiopian women and helped to enhance their livelihood. Princess Sophia will be best remembered for selflessness, generosity, her tireless charity work and avid interest in the education and welfare of not just Ethiopian children but all children and humanity alike.

Like her siblings and other family members Princess Sophia Desta enjoyed a very close relationship with her grandfather, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie and was a frequent visitor at the Jubilee Palace. She accompanied His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I on several foreign state visits, most notably visits to Yugoslavia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Princess Sophia Desta was among the members of the Imperial family that were imprisoned by the Marx-ist Derg regime upon the overthrow of the Ethiopian Monarchy in September 1974. She endured impris-onment under harsh conditions for 14 years, finally being freed in 1988. She first settled in Geneva, Switzerland and later in London, where she died on November 11, 2021. She is survived by her sister Imperial Highness Princess Seble Desta, her daughter Emebet Hoy Hannah Mariam Meherete Selassie Dereje, her grandson Lij Desta Asfaw, many nephews and nieces and family members.

She will be dearly missed by her family and friends by whom she has long been held in great affection.

Emebet Hannah Mariam would like to express her deep felt thanks and gratitude to all those near and far who have expressed their sadness at the passing of her mother.

May God rest the soul of Princess Sophia among the blessed, and may her memory be eternal.

On the Passing of H.I.H. The Duke of Harrar

HIH The Duke of Harrar

HIH The Duke of Harrar

A Statement from the Crown Council of Ethiopia

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of His Imperial Highness the Duke of Harrar, Prince Wossen Seged Makonnen Haile Selassie (August 21, 1947 – November 10, 2021) after a long illness. His Imperial Highness was 74.

Prince Wossen Seged, (commonly referred to as “Paul”) was born in Addis Ababa, on the 21st of August, 1947 to Their Imperial Highnesses Prince Makonnen Haile Selassie and Princess Sara Gizaw, the Duke and Duchess of Harrar. He was thus a grandson of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw of Ethiopia. After the death of his father Prince Makonnen in May 1957, Prince Wossen Seged succeeded as Duke of Harrar just a few months before his 10th birthday. Prince Wossen Seged attended Millfield School and Gordonstoun School in the United Kingdom as well as the Leysin American School in Vaud, Switzerland. He was among the members of the Imperial family to be imprisoned by the Derg regime following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1974 under harsh conditions and was released in 1989. Many of us in exile in the diaspora worked to free him and the other prisoners in our family for years without success.

Prince Wossen Seged had an independent mind and a keen sense of observation. Like so many of his generation, he was politically a progressive. He always had a place in his heart for the less fortunate among us, which made him popular with the Ethiopian people. He paid the price of imprisonment solely because of the accident of his birth. After his release, he carried the pain of those years with quiet dignity. He had been given responsibility by His Majesty at a young age. This and his suffering under the Derg must have been a great burden to him. But his personality and charisma never diminished. His humility and personal charm were infectious to all who knew him. He lived an exceptional life.

We remember his wife Connie Quave for the years of life they shared together. Our prayers in these difficult days ahead are with her and his brothers, Prince Mikael Makonnen, Prince Tafari Makonnen, and Prince Beede Mariam Makonnen. May God comfort them and the entire Imperial family, and may He rest the soul of Prince Wossen Seged in paradise.

On the Passing of Lij Sebastianos Beyene

Lij Sebastyanos Beyene

Lij Sebastyanos Beyene

A Statement from the Crown Council of Ethiopia

We are saddened to report a great loss to the Ethiopian royal family and to all friends of Ethiopia, the death of Lij Sebastianos Beyene (September 18, 1960 – July 25, 2021). Sebastian was the son of Lij Samson Beyene and Koremtit Andargachew. He was a great-grandson of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I through the emperor’s first-born daughter, Princess Romanework. Sebastian went to Entoto International and Sandford English School for elementary and junior high school. He was fortunate to be abroad during the revolution that overthrew the Ethiopian monarchy in 1974, and he remained in exile in England for some time. He attended Kings School, Bruton, in Somerset, and took his A-levels in history and geography at Abigdon School, Oxford. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, was Sebastian’s roommate at Santa Barbara, and his close life-long friend. Recalling that friendship, Prince Ermias said, “Sebastian was such an important part of my life. We shared so much together, so many memories. So many parts of my life remained alive in him. So much of my life’s collective memory was held in his hands. We cannot fill the vacuum left by his death, but something good can come out of it. We can use his memory to remind us of all that we have lost, and to find strength for the healing that is still to come.”

We ask everyone to join us in remembering a departed friend, to join us in praying for him, and to join us in remembering all of the family we have lost in recent years.