2024 Victory of Adwa Dinner

The Annual Victory of Adwa Dinner for 2024 was held 23 March 2024 in Washington, DC.

Click the photograph above to be taken to the website of the photographer who captured the event.

Proceeds from the sale of photographs on this website – which also includes photos from the 2019-2023 Victory of Adwa Dinners – will go to support The Crown Council of Ethiopia.

An End to a Half Century of Massacres

A Statement from HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

የካቲት 20, 2016 / February 28, 2024

We, the Crown and People of Ethiopia, have endured our portion, and more, of the massacres of our kinsmen, by our kinsmen, over the past half-century. We can tolerate no more.

The latest known massacre, one-by-one in execution style, was of at least 102 innocent civilians — from infants to the most elderly — in the town of Merawi, in the Gojjam Region, on ጥር 20, 2016 (January 29, 2024, international calendar), by a uniformed battalion of the Ethiopian National Defense Force. This deliberate, savage, and unwarranted massacre took us past our final barrier of tolerance. The only crime of the people of Merawi that day was that they were Amhara, of Christian and Muslim faiths, and their attackers were primarily not representative of what a national army should be; they were led and largely manned by Ethiopians of a different ethnicity.

We have witnessed a nightmare of unconscionable and frequent massacres over the past year: perhaps as many as a million people have been killed, and countless more rendered homeless. In the two years before that we saw even more killed in inter-ethnic warfare, by both extremist ethnic groups and the government of the day.

Our stable, peaceful, and rapidly-progressing society was shattered on መስከረም 2, 1967 (September 12, 1974), when a coup by a small group of military overthrew the Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I; later to kill him, and to instigate the first of the massacres: the Massacre of the Sixty. That occurred on the morning of ኅዳር 14, 1967 (November 23, 1974), and saw 60 imprisoned former government officials executed by the coup leaders — the Dergue — at Kerchele Prison. It began the Soviet-supported communist Red Terror and the Ethiopian Civil War, neither of which, arguably, have yet ended. Many members of the Ethiopian Imperial Family were either killed or imprisoned for decades.

These past 50 years have seen the Terror take from all Ethiopians their illustrious historical identity as Ethiopians when these revolutionaries have attempted to divide us in order to conquer us. We have been robbed, too, of our lands and properties, of our rights to our self-defence, our freedom, and — for a half-century — we were robbed of our future. No more. We can no longer allow others to impose identities upon us. We are, as the Gift of God, free people who also have been known as Ethiopians and kinsmen to each other across all regional lines.

The repudiation of this 50-year reign of terror, imposed over several different administrations, is well underway, as the uprising of Ethiopian peoples of many ethnicities and regions occurs to seek justice. But this can only be justice if the rule of legitimate laws is restored. We cannot replace violence and injustice with a different variation of violence and injustice.

The Ethiopian Crown was never destroyed during these past 50 years, and it is ready, as always, to help restore peace, justice, and friendship among all Ethiopian Peoples. And we urge the Fano groups of militias which have arisen around our nation to remain conscious that their mission is to restore justice and accountability; to restore the unity and prosperity of our various peoples; and not to seek vengeance.

The adoption of the 1966 (1974), draft Constitution, proposed by Emperor Haile Selassie, is critical to us today. It alone can create the legitimacy of governance required to impartially achieve justice for victims of Merawi and the Sixty, and the millions of our dead, displaced, and impoverished in the intervening half century.

We must memorialise this half-century of tears; this half-century of wasted time and wasted lives; this half-century of unwavering nobility of suffering by our People. And we will do so, just as we have memorialised the great triumphs of our united People during the two great Italian invasions and the many invasions by regional forces. We must recall that the great Emperors, Menelik II and Haile Selassie I, began putting Ethiopia on the path to economic and social progress. And this progress was interrupted solely by the greed for power of individuals whom history will forget.

It must now be our common goal to end the present conflict with as little bloodshed as possible, and commit ourselves to being above revenge and in favour of impartial justice. And to seeing not only the restoration of a trustworthy democratic process, but the dawn of an era when our interrupted path to prosperity and prestige is resumed.

God Bless Ethiopia! May it become, again, a nation of peoples committed to justice.

A Call for Ethiopia’s Salvation

From HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

Victory of Adwa Day, የካቲት 22, 2016 (March 1, 2024)

Ethiopian Brothers and Sisters: We are at the pivotal point between a future of perpetual darkness, or a future of revived happiness, pride in our unique identities, and conscious of our historical role which makes us unique in a world in turmoil. We cannot sleep through this time, nor allow our fate to be decided by those who wish our destruction and would see our three millennia of striving at God’s hand become scattered, meaningless, and lost.

The fate of what we know as Ethiopia is now in your hands. Our hands: the joined hands of the Ethiopian peoples and the Crown of Ethiopia.

Beloved Ethiopia! Beloved Ethiopians! Today we raise our prayers in thanks for the great victory of Adwa, delivered to us 128 years ago by Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu Betul and the united Ethiopian People against the first Italian invasion. The Crown Council struggled for decades to have the great, unifying Victory of Adwa officially recognized and memorialized, and our efforts proved impossible to ignore. The Ethiopian People are thus restoring their memory and their identity. To lose our way again would prove fatal. Our prayers similarly thank the Almighty for the great victory 83 years ago by Emperor Haile Selassie I and the united Ethiopian People — the Arbegnoch, the Patriots — against the second Italian invasion.

But today our prayers are also prayers of anguish, trauma, and supplication for deliverance and guidance in dealing a threat which may end the unbroken pride and identity — indeed, the very existence — of Ethiopia. It is a threat from within our great empire of equal peoples, and, yes, the current war which takes or brutalizes so many Ethiopian lives is either supported or ignored by so many of the world’s peoples. Left unremedied, this current war will transform our lands from a divine land of promise to a landscape of salted soil and perpetual sorrow.

The Crown of Ethiopia has endured, rebuilt, and strengthened since the coup a half-century ago saw not only the death of our beloved Emperor Haile Selassie but also the very deliberate killing of the great new Constitution which was to have delivered Ethiopia into a new age of freedom, democracy, opportunity, and guaranteed equality under the law.

Beloved Ethiopians! Those great emperors who gave us salvation at Adwa and Gondar are gone in body, but not in spirit. Nor are they gone from memory. Neither are they lost to us as inspiration. Thus they are alive, and the Solomonic Crown today pledges to work beside you all to resolve our present miseries and deliver safety, happiness, trust among our peoples, freedom to pray each in our own ways, and the restored prestige of Ethiopia as a light to the entire world.

If the tools to end our present tragedy are in our hands, then it is true that to take them up will require the humility of greatness to enable compromise and the leap of faith to rebuild trust.

There is no doubt that it will also require, as the guiding plan, the implementation of the ሐምሌ 30,  1966  (August 6, 1974, International Calendar: IC) draft Constitution, which would provide for the restoration of the legitimacy of Ethiopian governance as well as the restoration of the rule of democracy and safety under the law.

The Crown, embodied in the Crown Council of Ethiopia under the last legitimate Constitution of Ethiopia, is here to provide the bridge between the warring parties and to restore the peace of the family. It is not the Crown’s right, under the 1966 (1974 IC) Constitution, to interfere in the rights and duty of Ethiopians to elect their own parliament and government, but it is the Crown’s duty to protect the Constitution and the constitutional rights of Ethiopians. Therefore, we are available to help our warring society to resolve its differences by whatever means possible.

Beloved Ethiopians! It is a time for the great among our people to come forward and show their strength through compromise and obedience to the Almighty and to the larger destiny of the Ethiopian nation-state, and its sparkling component nations. It is a time for all Ethiopians to insist on the dignity, equality, and opportunity of all our peoples and to have justice before God and the world.

It is a time to return to our challenge of setting to the entire world, once again, an example of ethical and moral devotion. To become, once again, the noble state.

On the Passing of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the Prince of Naples

The Ethiopian Crown Council extends its condolences to the House of Savoy and the people of Italy on the passing of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the Prince of Naples (1937-2024). Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, said, “I am sorry to learn of the death of the Prince of Naples. His family and mine shared the challenge of exile from our homeland, and the struggle of waiting many decades before being able to return. I extend my sympathies in particular to his widow Princess Marina, his son Emanuele Filiberto the Prince of Venice, and his two granddaughters, Princess Vittoria and Princess Louisa of Savoy.”

His Royal Highness Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy was born on February 12, 1937, to the then Crown Prince (later King) Umberto and his wife Princess (later Queen) Marie Jose (born a Princess of Belgium) in Naples, Italy. He went into exile with the rest of the Italian Royal family when the Italian monarchy was abolished in 1946, and along with all males of his family was prevented by law from setting foot on Italian soil.  The Italian Royal Family were made to bear the burden of punishment that should have been directed at the members of the Fascist Party who committed the crimes, but who were instead shielded from punishment. The law excluding the Savoy Princes from their homeland was repealed in 2002, and Prince Vittorio Emanuele was able to return to his homeland along with his family.

Reflecting on Vittorio Emanuele’s long life, Prince Ermias said, “In 1946, when the Prince was still a young boy, the Italian people voted to abolish their monarchy. In doing so, they forgot that their monarchy had made Italy. The monarchy was the symbol that unified the Italian nation, making many regions and principalities into a single people. Here too, his family and mine have played comparable roles, the Ethiopian monarchy being central over the centuries to the creation and preservation of Ethiopian unity. Ethiopia and Italy have met in war twice in the past, but these are brief moments in the long history of two great nations. The Prince of Naples was open and sympathetic to the idea of an apology from the House of Savoy to the Ethiopian people for the conflicts of the past. I look forward to working with his heirs to heal this intergenerational wound, to preserve our cultural heritage, and to advance the cooperation between our peoples.”

In a Week of Honours, Ethiopian Crown Council President Receives the Freedom of the City of London

His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, was given the prestigious honour of Freedom of the City of London, on November 17, 2023, mirroring the similar honour given to his Grandfather, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, during his State Visit to Britain in 1954.

The honour, bestowed at the Guildhall in London, occurred in the same week that Prince Ermias paid a formal, and yet sentimentally important visit to the Emperor’s home in exile in Britain — Fairfield House, in the city of Bath — where he was received on November 14, 2023, by officials caring for the home and its grounds as a monument to the Emperor, as well as by the Mayor of Bath. The Mayor then escorted Prince Ermias and Princess Saba Kebede on a tour of the city, including the famous 2,000-year-old Roman baths, where a photograph of the Emperor still adorns the walls from his time there in the 1930s.

It was from Fairfield House that Emperor Haile Selassie worked to get British support for the war to remove the invading Italian forces from Ethiopia.

On the next day, November 15, 2023, His Imperial Highness presented and unveiled an important monumental plaque at the Royal Chapel, St. George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle, near London. The monument paid tribute to the great victory which the Emperor, along with his British and Commonwealth allies, achieved in 1941, driving the occupying Italians from Ethiopia. This was the culmination of the work he began at Fairfield House.

While at Windsor Castle, Prince Ermias and his wife, HIH Princess Saba Kebede, paid tribute to the son of Emperor Tewedros II, Prince Alemayu, who is buried outside St. George’s Chapel. Prince Alemayu had been raised by Queen Victoria after the death of Emperor Tewedros II, and was deeply loved by the British monarch. She marked his passing by erecting a monument to him inside the Chapel, something unique in the Castle’s history, and ensuring that he was buried with the graves of some 40 or more British Royal Family members.

Prince Ermias unveiled the Victory of Gondar memorial plaque, initially, at Prince Alemayu’s gravesite. The Chapel’s Canon Jonathan Coore delivered a sermon on the occasion, speaking in English and Ge’ez, and quoting from the Book of Enoch. Prince Ermias presented him with a Victory of Gondar medal to commemorate the event and the great Ethiopian-British alliance.

The Victory of Gondar Dinner: London: November 17, 2023

Remarks by HIH Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

President of The Crown Council of Ethiopia

Dear Friends.

Let me call you that, because nothing differentiates us tonight.

And I thank Almighty God for that.

We are here because of the bond of our love for freedom. We love Ethiopia, and crave its freedom.

And we love the Britain and her Commonwealth which helped the great Emperor, my Grandfather His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, to achieve the freedom and salvation of Ethiopia.

The years of abandonment by the world scarred my Grandfather and the Ethiopian People. The Victory at Gondar — even though the world forgot it when, two weeks afterwards, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the US into the war — … well, the Victory at Gondar began our healing, and accelerated the path by the Emperor toward making Ethiopia a true confederation of lands and people under a democratic, parliamentary constitutional monarchy, similar to the pattern of the United Kingdom.

Our path to that goal was interrupted, even as the Emperor drafted a new Constitution in 1973 to implement the final steps in this, and as my Grandfather was overthrown and then killed by the Dergue. They killed or imprisoned so many of my family and the families of so many Ethiopians, and we mourn them as we mourn the loss of the Arbegnoch — the Patriots — who gave us the Gondar Victory. And those from Britain, Kenya, Australia, and elsewhere, who lie in graves, so many unmarked graves, in the Ethiopia which has become their eternal rest.

This was an achievement not only for Ethiopia, but for the world. We celebrate the 82nd anniversary of that painful relief and victory, at Gondar, where we saw the first territory seized by the Axis powers in World War II freed from brutal occupation. We also cannot forget that the invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 was the true start of World War II. And we Ethiopians suffered, apparently without friends or support, until the relief began after 1939, and final victory for Ethiopia was delivered two years later.

But where are we Ethiopians today? I say that in all the chaos of the continuing conflict which is the legacy of that dreadful Dergue and its successor communist and autocratic governments, we are, in fact, closer to returning to the Emperor’s dream of democracy, and a unity of Ethiopian spirit than we have been for almost five decades.

HIH Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, with Le’ult Saba Kebede at Windsor Castle, in the United Kingdom, on November 15, 2023, at the gravesite there of HIH Prince (Le’ul) and Dejazmatch Alameyu, the son of Emperor Tewedros II. Le’ul Alemayu was, at the request of the Emperor before he died, taken into the care of Queen Victoria, who raised him as a son until his death in 1879 at the age of 18. Le’ul Alemayu was buried in an area with some 40 members of the British Royal Family, which is why it is now impossible to recover his remains for repatriation to Ethiopia, and why he remains at rest in his adopted country. Between Le’ult Saba and Le’ul Ermias can be seen the new Memorial Plaque to the 1941 Victory of Gondar. The plaque was unveiled at St. George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle, the chapel of the British Order of the Garter, to which His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I belonged.

Why is this 82nd anniversary of the Gondar Victory so important?

This week, through the graciousness of His Majesty King Charles III — for whom we call God’s Blessing on his new reign — we were able to unveil a new Memorial Plaque at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle to the memory of those who made the Gondar Victory possible. This was a major milestone, not only in modern Anglo-Ethiopian friendship, but also in recognising the strategic importance of Ethiopia to the security of the great global trade link of the Red Sea and Suez Canal. And in recognising the bonds between the Ethiopian and British crowns, which eventually became bonds between eternally linked brothers.

I was blessed, too, this week, to visit my grandfather’s home in exile, Fairfield House, in Bath, and again to reflect on his anguish as he sought a path home to relieve Ethiopia of its invaders. And then, today, I was privileged to be granted the Freedom of the City of London. All of these things are small marks on the pages of history, but they mark the slow rebuilding of the dignity, warmth, and nobility of our nations, Britain and Ethiopia, and our recognition of the importance of the Commonwealth of Nations to which we also owe brotherhood.

It is not from nostalgia that I speak. It is from the reality that today, more than ever since World War II, Britain and Ethiopia seek to restore nobility of purpose to our nations, and this is the most essential ingredient to restoring the dignity of purpose and magnanimity of the souls of all our peoples.

For us, it is critical, because Ethiopia, as I said, remains embroiled in war. The chaos which began with the regicide of my grandfather and — far worse — the destruction of the dreams of the Ethiopian People, is now approaching a climax.

The largest war in the world today, in terms of casualties and displaced persons, is not in Ukraine or the Levant — as tragically important and barbaric as those wars are — it is in Ethiopia, where possibly as many as 1.5-million people have been killed in the past year and 26-millions more have become displaced from their homes. We join the world in mourning the loss of life and the meaning of life in the Ukraine and Israeli situations, because we know the meaning of suffering.

The Ethiopian People are now fighting for their lives, their freedoms, their very identity, and the Crown of Ethiopia is in the midst of this, attempting to give support to the people, and to supporting the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Christian Church. This war — which is a genocidal attack, by the United Nations definition — goes unreported in the Western media, largely because of the suppression of the internet and news coming from Ethiopia, but I want you to know of it, and to help where you can.

In a moment, I am going to ask my kinsman, Lij Asfaw Sahle, to give you a brief report on the situation inside Ethiopia.

In the meantime, let me again thank you all for being with us tonight. It is a blessing of immeasurable comfort to me and to Princess Saba. And let me thank my friends and colleagues who have made this dinner possible. It is one of the few opportunities for us to gain attention for our cause and to raise some funds for the operation of the Crown Council.

Let me now, ending with my profound thanks to you all, call on Lij Asfaw to talk with you.

Commemorating the Anniversary of the Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I

23 Tikimt 2015 / 3 November 2023

On the 23rd Day of the Month of Tikimt, 1923 on the Ethiopian Calendar, and November 2, 1930, on the Gregorian Calendar, Emperor Haile Selassie I was crowned King of Kings of Ethiopia at Addis Ababa’s Cathedral of St. George. This year, we celebrate the anniversary on November 3, 2023, due to Ethiopian leap year pushing the calendar one day forward until it readjusts with Gregorian leap year in February. This is a look back on that glorious day.

Through centuries, Ethiopia witnessed many Imperial successions as Emperor replaced Emperor over 30 centuries. Emperor Haile Selassie’s coronation however was a particular historic milestone for several reasons. Firstly, he succeeded the only woman to reign in her own right since ancient times, his second cousin, Empress Zewditu. When the nobility gathered in September of 1916 and deposed Lij Iyasu Mikael, they had enthroned Zewditu as successor to her father Emperor Menelik II. As she was childless and past her childbearing years, it was decided that the next heir would be Ras Tafari Makonnen, her paternal second cousin who became both Crown Prince and Regent. It was the first time in the history of Ethiopia that a monarch was crowned with a designated heir apparent in the position of regent. Now, the regent was succeeding to the throne himself. Indeed, Emperor Haile Selassie may have been crowned Emperor in 1930, but he had taken on state responsibility in 1916.

Ethiopia had been opening up to the outside world since the reign of Emperor Menelik II in a way that it hadn’t before. Ever since the victory at the Battle of Adwa, the great powers of the day had all become very interested in Africa’s sole surviving pre-colonial Empire. Diplomatic relations had been established and the pursuit of commercial and political ties was sought by not just colonial powers, but countries like Japan and the United States. Thus, when Emperor Haile Selassie acceded to the Imperial throne on April 2nd, 1930, and preparations began for his coronation, these new ties were considered when a guest list was drawn up for the upcoming coronation. Invitations were sent to all the crowned and non-crowned heads of state, but traditionally, monarchs did not attend the coronation of another monarch, but instead sent a representative in their stead. This tradition was only changed in this century. The coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie attracted an illustrious list of attendees. Of the world’s monarchies, King George V of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India, was represented by his son Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester. King Vittorio Emanuelle III of Italy was represented by his cousin, Prince Fernando of Savoy Prince of Udine and future Duke of Genoa. Other monarchs sent senior nobles and diplomats. King Albert II of the Belgians sent diplomat M. Gérard, King Gustav V of Sweden sent Baron H.K. C. Bildt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands sent Jonkheer Hendrik Maurits van Haersma de With, Emperor Hirohito of Japan sent diplomat Isaburo Yoshida, King Fuad I of Egypt sent Muhammad Tawfiq Nasim Pasha. The republics of the world were also well represented. France sent Marshal Louis Franchet d’Espèrey, one of its most senior military figures and a man responsible for the significant allied victory during World War I in Macedonia and much of the Balkans contributing significantly to the Armistice. President Herbert Hoover of the United States sent Ambassador Herman Murray Jacoby, a Bavarian born senior American diplomat who had worked extensively in Latin America. President von Hindenburg of Germany sent Baron von Waldthausen, President Alexandros Zaimis of Greece sent Count P. Metaxas, President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Pasha of Turkey sent Muhittin Pasha and President Moscicki of Poland sent Count Dzieduszycki. Such an illustrous group of foreign royals and august representatives had never assembled in sub-Saharan Africa before then. This demonstrated to the world the importance Ethiopia had assumed on the world stage in the years after she had defended her sovereignty at Adwa. Each of the foreign royals and representatives were given a ceremonial welcome at the train station upon arriving at Addis Ababa. They were accompanied by large numbers of press of both printed and film varieties, and so the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie was the only one of Ethiopia’s many coronations to be documented with such detail. Writer Evelyn Waugh attended and recorded his observations and based his book “Black Mischief” on his experiences.

The day before the coronation, the guests were all assembled in the square outside the main gates of St. George’s Cathedral to witness the unveiling of the equestrian statue of Emperor Menelik II. The statue had been commissioned by Empress Zewditu to honor her father, but she had died before it was completed. It now fell to her successor to do honor to the hero of Adwa. Emperor Haile Selassie decided to allow the senior foreign royal guest to actually unveil the statue, and Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester pulled the rope to remove the drape and expose the magnificent statue of Menelik II on horseback. The assembled population cheered rapturously upon seeing this monument to a massively popular Emperor. As the Cathedral of St. George was too small to accommodate the large number of coronation guests, a massive tent had been attached to the Western side of the church doubling its size. Two canopied thrones had been set up in this tent and would be the place the ceremony would be conducted the next morning.

A week earlier, the Bejirond (Imperial Treasurer) had been conveyed in grand procession by carriage from the Menelik Palace to St. George’s Cathedral, taking with him the crowns of the Emperor and Empress, the scepter and orb of the Emperor, the diamond rings of the Emperor and Empress, the sword of state, the spears of state and the robes of state. These were handed into the custody of the of the Prior of the Cathedral Chapter and were placed in the Holy of Holies of the Cathedral and prayed over night and day. Forty-nine high ranking clergy from the major monasteries and shrines prayed over the regalia.

Each day they recited the Psalms over them 49 times in shifts and prayed over them. They were joined on the final night, on the eve of the coronation by the Bishops, the Abbots of the major monasteries of the Empire and senior clergy from all over the country. Included among these clergy was Abba Amde Mariam, Abbot of the monastery of Debre Bizen in the then Italian colony of Eritrea. At midnight, Emperor Haile Selassie I, Empress Menen, their children, and the nobility entered the church to take part in the vigil.

At 7 AM, the foreign guests arrived and were seated in their places in the huge tent. Holy Liturgy had started an hour earlier inside the church. It was arranged that the foreign guests and senior Ethiopian aristocrats would be interspersed in the seating so that the Ethiopians could instruct the foreign delegations when it would be appropriate to stand and when to sit, etc. The Ethiopian nobility was out in force, most having come great distances to attend the coronation. They were led by the four Leul Rases (Prince-Dukes) who led cadet lines of the Imperial dynasty. They were Leul Ras Kassa Hailu head of a sub-branch of the House of Shewa, Leul Ras Hailu Tekle Haimanot head of the House of Gojjam, and the heads of the two branches of the House of Tigray Leul Ras Seyoum Mengesha, and Leul Ras Gugsa Araya. All these princes wore glittering robes of state heavily embroidered in gold and wore princes’ coronets as did their wives.

The ceremony itself was presided over by two Coptic Archbishops, Abune Kerrilos the Archbishop of Ethiopia, and Abune Yosab, the legate of the Coptic Pope Yohannes XIX. Abune Yosab had brought with him a Coptic choir which took part in the ceremony as well. Assisting them were Ethiopias first native-born Bishops. They were Abune Abraham of Gojjam and the West, Abune Petros of Wollo and the East, Abune Yisehaq of Tigray and the North, Abune Mikael of Illubabur and the South West, and Abune Sawiros, former Echege of Debre Libanos and Bishop of the South. After the guests had taken their places in the tent, the Holy Liturgy had reached the point of the reading of the gospel, after which the Emperor and the Empress, clad in silver embroidered white cloaks entered the tent from the church to much acclaim and took their places before the two canopied thrones. The ceremony began with Abune Kerrilos approaching the Emperor with a gold bound Bible for the Oath. The Emperor placed his right hand on the golden gospels and swore to:

  1. Uphold and strengthen the Orthodox Faith which had been upheld since the days of the Holy Monarchs Abreha and Atsbeha, without disturbing its ancient laws, ordinances and traditions as laid down by the Holy Church.
  2. To uphold in all his actions through his power and authority the interests of the people of Ethiopia, according to her laws and with kindness, mercy and patience and administer true justice.
  3. To uphold the established laws and to carry them out in consultation with his council and safeguard the entire realm and its people.
  4. To further the spiritual and secular education of his people.

The Emperor then signed a copy of the oath, and his seal was placed upon it.

The Emperor and Empress then took their seats on the canopied thrones. The Archbishop Abune Kerrilos, the Coptic Patriarch’s legate Abune Yosab, the five native bishops and each of the abbots of the monasteries responsible for presenting the implements of the coronation entered the Holy of Holies of the Cathedral where the Archbishop blessed all the regalia on the velvet covered table they had been placed on. The Emperor and Empress had their white cloaks removed and were clothed in the red and gold Imperial robes of state. Then as the Archbishop blessed each item, it was taken out by the Abbot of the ancient monastery responsible for that item of regalia along with one of the native Bishops to bestow upon the Emperor in the following order:

  • The Abbot of the Monasteries of Lasta-Lalibela and the Bishop of Northern Ethiopia Abune Yisehaq brought out the red velvet robes of state heavily embroidered in gold. They helped robe the Emperor in them.
  • The diamond studded gold sword of state was brought out by the Abbot of the Tedbabe Mariam Monastery and Abune Sawiros Bishop of Southern Ethiopia, and they assisted in fastening the sword and belt on the Emperor.
  • The gold and diamond Imperial Scepter was brought out by the Abbot of Hayq Estifanos monastery and Abune Mikael, Bishop of South Western Ethiopia and placed the scepter in the Emperor’s right hand.
  • The gold and diamond coronation ring was brought out by the Abbot of Mertule Mariam Monastery and Abune Abraham of Western Ethiopia and placed on the Emperor’s fourth finger of his right hand.
  • The two golden spears of state were brought out by the Abbot of the Debre Wegeg Asebot monastery and Abune Petros Bishop of Eastern Ethiopia, and they presented them to the Emperor who grasped them in his left hand.
  • Then the Prior of the Debre Libanos Monastery came out with the flask containing the Holy Anointing Oil, followed by the most senior Monk and Prior of the monastery of St. Mary of Zion at Axum, carrying the Imperial crown. They were followed by the Archbishop Abune Kerrilos and the Patriarchal Legate Abune Yosab, and the singing Coptic Choir.

The Archbishop then prayed to God to send down the Holy Spirit onto the Anointing Oil so that the King of Kings of Ethiopia should be blessed and honored. That God clothe him in glory and light, and grant him victory over his enemies, and strengthen his arms, and allow him to join the blessed Kings of the past that have pleased the Almighty and that he may shine like a star among them with God’s grace. “Oh Holy God, just as the Old Testament Kings, the Priests, and Prophets were anointed by You with Blessed Oil so that they would govern the people of Israel; in this same manner please bless Your elect, Haile Selassie, as we Your servants anoint him in Your name, so that he may be Haile Selassie the First, King of Kings, and grant him Your strength, and fortify him with Your Spirit. Grant him wisdom and thoughtfulness, knowledge, and good advice.” Abune Kerrilos then took the oil from the Prior of Debre Libanos and saying “just as Sadok anointed David, and Nathan anointed Solomon I anoint you with this blessed and holy oil” anointing the Emperor with the oil in the form on a cross on his forehead and his chest through an opening in the robes of state. Then the Archbishop took the Imperial Crown from the hands of the Prior of Axum and said “Oh Lord our God, we beg You to bless this crown. And we ask You just as You have crowned our King Haile Selassie with this crown of precious gold, crown his heart with a crown of goodness” and then placed the Imperial Crown upon the Emperor’s head.

Following the Emperor’s crowning, the Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen was brought before him and knelt down in front of his father. The Archbishop that administered an oath of loyalty in which the Prince swore to obey and honor his father, to not be presumptuous like Absalom, or hurried like Adonias and seek what was not granted to him or listen to those who advised him to do so. He also made him promise to uphold the laws passed by his father and his council, and not to be an obstacle or a hindrance to them. The Emperor then said, “May God make you the receiver of my crown” and the Prince replied, “May God grant me what you have spoken”. The Crown Prince then rose to kiss the Emperors right hand with which he held the Imperial Scepter, and the Archbishop blessed his coronet and placed it on his head.

Then Abune Sawiros, Bishop of Southern Ethiopia came forward and placed a diamond and gold ring on the fourth finger of Empress Menen’s right hand. He said “Accept this ring which is a symbol of Faith. May God amplify your majesty, and may you do great things to please the Lord”. Then two senior monks from St. Mary of Zion in Axum came out of the Holy of Holies holding the crown of the Empress. The Emperor stood and then asked that the Archbishop crown the Empress as he had just crowned the Emperor. The Archbishop then prayed “Oh Lord God grant your servant Wolete Giorgis, Empress Menen, this crown. May it be a crown of honor, of generosity, of mercy, of knowledge and wisdom for her” placing the crown on her head. This was a momentous moment, as this was the first time an Empress-Consort had been crowned by the Archbishop in the same church ceremony in as her husband. Traditionally Empresses were crowned by the Emperors at his Palace in a much smaller ceremony on the third day after the coronation of the Emperor. Empress Taitu had been crowned by the then Archbishop Abune Mattewos, on the third day of Emperor Menelik II’s coronation, but she had also been crowned in the Palace. Empress Menen was thus distinct in being crowned on the same day as her husband and in the same place.

Once the coronations were complete, the crowd began to cheer and ululate wishing the Emperor and Empress to “Reign a thousand years” as one by one, the most senior Princes, Nobles, and officials approached the thrones, bowed to the floor and paid homage to the new monarch and his consort. An address from the Coptic Patriarch, Pope Yohannes XIX, was read out wishing the Emperor a long life and bestowing the blessings of the Holy See of St. Mark of Alexandria. The Holy Liturgy was then resumed, and the Emperor and Empress then entered the church to receive Holy Communion. After the service was complete, the Emperor and Empress left the Cathedral under a large red canopy embroidered in gold and boarded the Imperial State Coach and went back to the Menelik Palace in a grand procession to preside over a great coronation day feast as a 51-gun salute boomed over the city.

This was the last coronation the Ethiopian Empire would see, as 44 years later, the monarchy was ended by a military coup and a revolution which would see upheaval that has continued for almost 5 decades since. However, we look back at this occasion and remember that we are a country with a magnificent history and a glorious past and aspire to returning to that place where we were respected and honored for those things.

New Year’s Greeting from HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

3 Puagme 2015 / 12 September 2023

To the greatly respected and loved people of Ethiopia and people of Ethiopian heritage, I wish to extend my good wishes as our benevolent creator crosses us over from the Ethiopian year 2015 into the new year of 2016.

This holiday, which we have celebrated as “Enqutatash” for many centuries, is rooted in culture, history and faith. In the Old Testament of the Bible it is related that the ancient Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to see for herself and learn about the great wisdom granted to Solomon by God. To show that this deed was a blessed one, the New Testament Gospel of St. Matthew praises her, saying “The Queen of the South shall rise up at the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it.” This holiday is called “Enqutatash” because the Queen returned to her country Ethiopia at this time of year, and her nobles presented her with a tribute of jewels or “Enqu” to celebrate her return. When this great queen returned to her homeland at the start of the new year, she was also approaching the date at which she would give birth to her son Emperor Menelik I, who was fathered by King Solomon. So the new year holiday is also connected to the establishment of the Solomonic Dynasty which reigned in our homeland for 3000 years and was the pride of our country. For this reason all who love their country and their history have celebrated this holiday through the ages.

Over the past 49 years, there has been an effort by successive regimes to belittle our history, to erode our native culture, traditions and philosophies ,and replace them with foreign and alien philosophies and false histories. They have worked to create separation and clashes between our people who have long intermarried and lived together for centuries, in order to divide and rule, and have caused untold misery to the country. In recent years we have seen wars and displacement caused by ethnic division at a level we have never seen before in our history. We have also seen assaults on Churches, Mosques and religious leadership in an unprecedented and shocking manner. In these past 49 years the tribulations that have descended upon our country are unequaled in our history. The answer to these troubles is not division but togetherness. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I gave a speech to parliament on the 25th Anniversary of his coronation and the presenting of a new constitution in which he said “It has been our desire that all born citizens of our Empire be represented in parliament in proportion to their numbers, and that irrespective of ethnicity or religion that there be no distinction between them in their rights. That all Ethiopians have equal rights and that our beloved people live as one great family in brotherhood has been our constant aim and goal.” Even now, we have far more that unites us than separates us and ties us together. Therefore we should raise the goals of His Majesty once more and choose the path of peace, unity, equality and brotherhood, which I believe most of our people recognize is the only path forward out of this crisis.

I ask that all of us pray that the new year be one in which the spirit of love and brotherhood is brought down and spread across our country by our Creator. May His mercy and His Peace be upon us all.

May Ethiopia Live Forever in Glory

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie Haile Selassie

President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

Theodore Vestal (1933-2023)

Theodore M. Vestal receiving the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Honour from Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council

Theodore M. Vestal passed away on June 7 at the age of 89. A former political science professor at Oklahoma State University, Vestal’s life-long interest in Ethiopia began in 1963, when he served as Associate Director of the Peace Corps in Addis Ababa.

During a long and storied academic career, Vestal wrote several influential books, including Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State (1999) and The Lion of Judah in the New World: Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Shaping of Americans’ Attitudes toward Africa (2011).

In January, 2018, in recognition of his long career in Ethiopian studies and his service to Ethiopia, Vestal received the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Honour from Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council. Vestal was also a recipient of the Crown Council’s medals honouring the Victory of Adwa and the Victory of Gondar.

Upon hearing of Vestal’s death, Prince Ermias called Vestal “a good man and a loyal and staunch friend of Ethiopia. It was his desire and commitment until the end of his life to see a peaceful Ethiopia.” Vestal is one of many international visitors to Ethiopia who made it a second home and a life-long love. May he rest in peace.

The Ethiopian Crown Welcomes the Coronation of the Sultan of the Assau

The Crown Council of Ethiopia released the following statement to the press today, መጋቢት5, 2015 (March 14, 2023):

Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, congratulates His Royal Highness Ahmed Alimirah Hanfare on the occasion of his coronation as Sultan of the Assau, which took place yesterday, መጋቢት 4, 2015 (March 13, 2023) at Assaita, the residential capital of the Sultan in Afar. His Royal Highness Ahmed Alimirah Hanfare has become the 15th Sultan of the Afar, and succeeds Sultan Hanfare Alimirah, who passed away on መስከረም 10, 2013 (September 20, 2020).

Le’ul Ermias was unable to attend the coronation, but wrote to the Crown Prince of the Afar, His Royal Highness Omar Alimirah Hanfare, to convey to the new Sultan “my wishes that he have a long life, good health, and a fruitful and peaceful reign”. In his letter, Le’ul Ermias spoke of the long bond between the Mudaito Dynasty of the Afar people and his own Solomon dynasty. He wrote of bitwoded Sultan Alimirah, who reigned from 1944 to 2011, that he “was the pride of not just the Afar people, but all the people of Ethiopia who were inspired by his patriotism, loyalty, bravery and wisdom”.

In remarks to the press, Le’ul Ermias added that the coronation of a Sultan of the Assau is not simply an occasion for the Afar people, but for all Ethiopians. “The Assau Sultanate is a reminder,” he said, “of the rich mosaic of traditional institutions with deep roots throughout Ethiopia. We look forward to a day when all Ethiopians will be able to restore and preserve their ancestral crowns. Our congratulations to Sultan Ahmed and to his people.”