On the Passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the Ascent of King Charles III

HM Queen Elizabeth II

A Statement by the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

ጳጉሜ 5, 2014

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II fulfilled her promise to God and her duty to her People and all of the People of the World on ጳጉሜ 3, 2014 (September 8, 2022), and was given rest. We mourn and exalt her, particularly for her abiding friendship and commitment to the People of Ethiopia and to our own late ግርማዊ ንጉሠ ነገሥት Haile Selassie I.

Queen Elizabeth swore to the Almighty that she would, as long as she lived, serve her People, and was anointed by God to do so. In that, and in the fulfillment of that promise, she was alike with our own beloved Emperor. They drew breath and were anointed of God only to serve, and to serve well with courage, wisdom, restraint, and kindness.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Emperor Haile Selassie were greatly devoted to each other and to the welfare of each other’s societies. Queen Elizabeth visited Ethiopia to pay tribute to the Emperor, and it was her father, the King Emperor George VI, who gave refuge to our Emperor during the Second Italian invasion of Ethiopia, assisting him in preparing and waging the great battles to restore Ethiopia to its people after five years of brutal occupation. Little wonder that our Emperor saw in the manner of Queen Elizabeth’s reign over the end of the colonial period and the institution of stable constitutional monarchy a model for how Ethiopia could succeed in moving, itself, toward constitutional monarchy and democracy.

HM Queen Elizabeth II visiting HM Emperor Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia

Her Majesty bestowed upon our Emperor, my Grandfather, two great gifts unique to such an ally: he was created a Knight of the Garter, Britain’s highest honour; and he was made a Field Marshal of the British Army. ጃንሆይ Haile Selassie bestowed upon Her Majesty and her Consort, Prince Philip, the highest Orders within the Solomonic gift. In every sense, they bowed to each other, with the compassion of understanding of the great things which harnessed them together in the service of their People.

Queen Elizabeth continued to represent continuity with the Emperor and Ethiopia, in many respects, after the coup of መስከረም 1967 (1974) and regicide (ነሐሴ 21, 1967) against the Emperor, giving refuge and aid where possible to those of the Imperial Family who were exiled in the United Kingdom and unable to return to their homeland.

I was such a beneficiary of this kindness and understood intimately that the Queen and the British People were also the family and protectors of their Ethiopian Solomonic cousins.

Her Majesty retained her commitment to the People of Ethiopia even as her health declined. In 2021 she actively participated in the shaping the design of the Ethiopian Crown Council’s Victory of Gondar Medal, which, with its issue on November 21, 2021 (ኅዳር 12, 2014), celebrated the 80th anniversary of the joint Ethiopian-British (and Commonwealth) efforts to defeat the Italian occupation in ኅዳር 1934 (November 1941). The medal finally brought recognition to the thousands of Patriots (አርበኞች) and members of the British and Commonwealth forces who died to liberate Ethiopia, and Her Majesty played a role in that.

So, Her Majesty never forgot us, as we will never forget her. She worked to bring Ethiopia into the greater community of global leadership out of respect for our Emperor and our Solomonic line, which gives us the oldest unbroken link to the time of King Solomon and Queen Makeda of Saba.

Her son, now His Majesty King Charles III, has been highly conscious of our shared links as Peoples. He has seen so many times our Emperor’s standard and crest in the chapel for the Order of the Garter, in Windsor, and was aware of Her Majesty’s abiding friendship with Ethiopia. So we share his grief at the passing of his beloved Mother in a way that shared families can share such feelings. And we wish him long life in his Great Service; as long a life as can be dreamed, and more, after his patient decades of apprenticeship for the Throne.

We, the Ethiopian Crown and People, wish him well, and offer him the same shared feeling of family that we have for so long felt with his Crown. We together face the turbulent future, knowing that what we can do to reflect the nobility, identity, and values of our People will determine the fate, safety, and well-being of our nations. We can do that together.

There can be no higher calling than that.

God Bless Queen Elizabeth II; go with our tears of thanks.

Long Live King Charles III; go forward with our hopes and prayers.

God Bless Ethiopia.

Crown Council Condemns Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia

Crown Council of Ethiopia

A Statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, on the Recent Violence in Ethiopia

My heart breaks when I hear of the senseless massacre of innocent Ethiopians in Wolega and Gambela. Too many times in recent years have we seen these tragedies take place again and again, all over our country. We are now reaping the bitter harvest of five decades of ethnic politics, five decades of dividing our family into ever smaller groups based on our language, our religion, our region.

We must change course now. If we do not, these massacres will happen again and again, until we are numb to them, and forget that we were once human. We all have a role to play, both in what we say and what we do. We must never praise or blame each other for the languages we speak or do not speak, the ancestors we share or do not share. Words matter. They inspire the worst among us to violence. And that violence has to stop. A thousand dead today might be ten thousand tomorrow, or far worse next year. Then the freedom and independence we earned and preserved through our darkest days will be squandered in a holocaust of our own making.

Nearly two decades ago, the Crown Council under my leadership announced its aim to be a strictly non-political institution. We stand by that goal. But it is not political to ask all Ethiopians to rise above party and ethnicity. It is not political to demand that our government and its leaders act quickly and decisively to protect the lives of all Ethiopians. And it is not political to remind Ethiopia that its Crown can help to unify and heal our country today, as it has at many moments in our past.

We must all work to ensure that no massacres like those we have just seen ever take place again. Nearly four years ago, our government established a Peace and Reconciliation Commission to help heal our country. But it has been able to accomplish little, receiving little government funding or support. We need its work now more than ever before.

And we need to do even more. I urge our country’s political and spiritual leaders – every priest and imam, every member of parliament to the Prime Minister himself – to work nonstop in the coming weeks and months, to build a new beginning. We must go to every region, every woreda, every kebele, and teach the next generation the message of peace and reconciliation.

We must love each other, every one of us, or all of us will fail.

Ethiopian Crown Delegation Visits Panama

Last month, representatives of the Ethiopian Crown Council traveled to Panama for an official visit hosted by the Panamanian government. HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, led the delegation, which included his wife HIH Princess Saba Kebede and advisors to the Crown Council representing the Moa Anbessa Institute. The trip, organized by the Tourism Authority of Panama, included meetings and events with Panama’s ministries of Foreign Affairs, Culture, and Tourism. These activities were part of a larger event on the theme of reunion between Africa and the African diaspora. Other guests included Her Majesty Queen Diambi of Congo’s Bakwa Luntu people; His Royal Highness Doctor Rilwan Sulaiman, Emir of Bauchi (Nigeria); and His Royal Highness Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the ooni of Ife (Nigeria).

On May 19, Prince Ermias gave a speech on the subject of colonialism and “The Unfinished Road to Freedom.” He described Ethiopia’s unique role in African history as the continent’s sole unconquered country and stressed the role that the Ethiopian monarchy played in unifying Ethiopia in the face of European aggression. He suggested that the final step in the liberation process was to “decolonize our minds.” He invited the audience to consider Africa’s wars over ethnicity, ideology, and natural resources, and asked “whether these are really our own values, or whether they have been imposed on us from the outside.” In his concluding remarks, he argued that “Africa’s traditional monarchies are a symbol of Africa’s freedom,” and called upon all Africans to “build a new generation of Africans proud of our traditions.”

On May 24, Prince Ermias joined the leadership of the Rastafarian community of Panama at an event hosted with the Ministry of Culture and the National Secretariat for the Development of Afro-Panamanians. Leading Rasta intellectuals presented on the topic of Rastafarians as a nation without a state. Prince Ermias gave a speech exploring the connections between the Rasta movement, Ethiopia’s church, and Ethiopia’s crown. He recorded the long history of support the African diaspora and the Rasta movement have given the Ethiopian crown, particularly during World War II and the years since the revolution of 1974.

In this speech, Prince Ermias invited the Rasta community to build closer ties to Ethiopia and to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. “The church gives me a goal and a guide,” he said in his concluding remarks, “the inspiration we can find in the humility, love, and forgiveness of Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice. The crown gives me a burden to carry, the obligation I owe to my cousins, my uncle, my grandfather, and to all of our ancestors, the duty I have to preserve the memory of my family and its role in the history of my culture and my people. So I have both a burden and a guide. The Rastas who have grown ever closer to our church and the Rastas who stand loyal to our crown have carried the same burden with me, following the same guide.”

Coverage of the Crown Council trip to Panama in the press and in social media has been extensive, and Prince Ermias’s speech to the Rasta community received live televised coverage. Ethiopian news site Borkena published a statement about the trip by the Moa Anbessa Institute on June 7. That statement read, in part:

It is our belief that the process of healing and reconciliation for the purposes of promoting and fostering peace and unity on the basis of a common history and identity starts with education, understanding and an open heart to learn and to forgive. Thus, it is only when we understand, forgive past injustices and reconcile with our history that we can begin to chart a path forward built on mutual trust, confidence and partnership beneficial to all people including the environment in which we live.

The Crown Council is grateful to support from the Moa Anbessa Institute and for the presence of its representatives on this trip. The Moa Anbessa statement makes an important point. Education and understanding are crucial for peace and reconciliation, both in Ethiopia specifically and Africa more generally. The Crown Council invites all Ethiopians to join in this journey, and invites everyone to remember the crucial role that Africa’s traditional institutions have to play in building bridges of peace and reconciliation, and in building Africa’s future.

Remarks at the Victory of Adwa Dinner by HIH Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

By His Imperial Highness Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

Washington, DC: March 12, 2022 

His Imperial Highness Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie
His Imperial Highness Le’ul Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie addresses guests at the 2022 Victory of Adwa Dinner

My Dear Bishop, Honorable Lijs and members of the Balabatawinet (the Ethiopian nobility), distinguished award recipients, your excellencies, and beloved friends of Ethiopia …

Firstly, let me congratulate the great individuals honoured here tonight. Each year, we present a very small number of medals to commemorate the Victory of Adwa. Each of you have performed outstanding work for Ethiopia; for your communities in the diaspora and at home. As you remember Adwa, we remember you. We thank you.

Ours is a sacred mission tonight: to remember, to honour, to cherish, and to learn from the great sacrifice of the patriots of Ethiopia who united 126 years ago to repel a great invading Army. Emperor Menelik II and his Empress, Taitu, rallied all of Ethiopia to act as one, showing that great unity could be achieved without the loss of the many individual cultures, traditions, and languages of our many nations.

Ethiopia showed that it was capable of acting as a great nation on the world stage.

We are fortunate that you will soon here some brief remarks about the Victory of Adwa from our distinguished friend, colleague, and historian, Professor Tibebe Eshete, who was honoured with the award of a Victory of Adwa Medal this year for his scholarship.

Our Agafari, Pamela, Marchioness of Tana, will introduce him shortly, and after Dr Tibebe gives his keynote talk, Pamela will introduce the Crown’s Strategic Advisor, Gregory Copley, the Marquess of Tana, to speak briefly about our important current work.

My mission here tonight, and that of my wife, Le’ult Saba, is to thank you again for your support for Ethiopia and the role of the Crown in Ethiopia’s recovery. We have been engaged for so long in a struggle for the survival of our nation and our identity that it is difficult to comprehend that we have been under siege for almost a half-century since the murder of my Grandfather and so many other Ethiopian patriots.

And it was my Grandfather, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, and my Grandmother, Empress Menen, who, like Menelik and Taitu, resisted and ultimately repelled an invading Italian army less than a half-century after the Victory of Adwa. As at the Victory of Adwa, my grandparents worked with patriots — arbegnoch — from all parts of Ethiopia, who united to prove that they were part of a noble mission to preserve the great example of Ethiopia as a pinnacle of African dreams. As with Adwa, the second Italian-Ethiopian war saw victory culminated at the Battle of Gondar after six years of struggle.

History has determined that the millennia of Ethiopia’s unique history and culture should be a pillar which sustains Africa, so when Ethiopia is humiliated and broken, then so, too, is Africa. And for Ethiopia to retain and rebuild its prestige, its traditions and mission must be revered. We are, then, all servants to this task which God has set us.

And yet even after two great trials set for Ethiopia at Adwa and Gondar — and, of course, there were many more great challenges through our history, we were, again within a half-century, beset by the coup which overthrew our Empire, and began almost a half-century more of oppression.

We are now emerging from that dark period, but still face many threats and obstacles, not just from the internal divisions which were created, but by foreign powers funding and inciting internal threats. We see the light, but we have not yet reached it.

How do we retain optimism, identity, dignity, and resilience when we have grown old in these shadows of brutality, oppression, and pervasive lies? How do we know when hope may transform into victory?

Yes, we see rays of light. The first sales of electricity from our Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have begun to demonstrate that Ethiopia can be a great hydropower for the region, as Emperor Haile Selassie envisaged, but that it can take command of its destiny. The Prime Minister paid tribute to those whose vision created the Dam, and rightly saw that this was initiative which began with the Emperor.

And this year, as Ethiopians took up the celebration of Adwa — something your Crown Council has always maintained in exile — we saw that the battle lines have still not been overcome. Those in government who gained their position through the revolutionary period of the Dergue and TPLF attempted to say that the Victory of Adwa was nothing to do with Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu, and moved the Adwa celebrations away from Menelik Square in Addis Ababa. You may have seen the unofficial celebration of Adwa, which was not organised by the Government. It not only saw Menelik Square filled with peaceful and enthusiastic people waving the tricolor of Ethiopia and spilling out into neighboring areas of the city, it saw a predominance of young people.

The great revival of Ethiopia is not based on old people looking back. It is based on young people looking forward, confident that the past has affirmed their identity of nobility and their unique mission.

We have much still to do. Great scholars, such as Dr Tibebe and our newly-appointed Blaten Geta, Dr Gizachew Tiruneh, both here tonight, are helping rebuild the process of educating Ethiopians and the world of the historic truths which made Ethiopia a durable civilization these past three millennia and more. We thank God for them and their sacred work. Another great Ethiopian scholar, Dr Edward Vestal, a Knight Grand Cross of the Star of Honour, is here with us in spirit tonight, and helped sponsor this event, as he did with the Victory of Gondar Dinner in London last November.  So, too, is Nicholas Melillo, who helped sponsor the important Victory of Gondar dinner last November. He was recently promoted, with much gratitude, to the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of Honour for his ongoing energy in supporting the cause of Ethiopian unity and the restoration of its honour. With us in spirit tonight, to, are two other sponsors of this great event: their excellencies Owen and Carole Lee Whitman. We thank them, too, for their generosity in helping to sponsor this gathering.

And all of you will have noticed the beautiful works of art created here to celebrate Ethiopia’s Crown. They are the work of the great artist, Kelly Fawaz, who was honoured here tonight, as well, with the Victory of Adwa Medal.

We have founded the Royal Ethiopian Geographical Society, which is charged with bringing together all the learning about Ethiopia’s geographic, geophysical, its other resources, and water data, and to understand the full sociological dynamic of our vast realm. The great Ethiopian Scholar, Gerazmach Dr Wolde Tadesse, has been elected the first President of the Royal Ethiopian Geographical Society, and we look to you all to help make this great endeavour a reality.

We have much more to discuss, but tonight is not the time to do more than reflect on the great lessons of the victories at Adwa and Gondar, and the great victory we need to win by restoring Ethiopia to unity, prosperity, and dignity.

Your Crown has been exceptionally busy, every day of every week, attempting to achieve the revival of our nation. We will not cease. And I thank you for being part of the journey we make together. I asked how we retain optimism, identity, dignity, and resilience through the darkness. The answer is you.

God Bless You. God Bless Emperors Menelik and Haile Selassie. God Bless the Ethiopian People and our beautiful land. Our mission is noble. Thank you.

Major General Gregory Copley’s Remarks at the Victory of Adwa Dinner

By Major General Gregory Copley, the Most Honourable the Marquess of Tana, and Strategic Advisor to the Crown Council of Ethiopia

Washington, DC: March 12, 2022

Major General Gregory Copley
Major General Gregory Copley, the Most Honourable the Marquess of Tana, addresses guests at the 2022 Victory of Adwa Dinner

Your Imperial Highnesses, Your Eminence, Honorable Lijs and members of the Balabatawinet, distinguished award recipients, your excellencies, and beloved friends of Ethiopia …

An incredible rising of the many peoples of Ethiopia joined with inspirational leadership under Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu to ensure that the Battle of Adwa changed history. Few battles change history, but Adwa did. Adwa restored the cohesion and dignity of the Ethiopian People, and renewed their unique claim to be one of the important and enduring civilisations in history.

The unique alignment of the stars which gave us Adwa created a shining example for Ethiopians to follow, and hope to all Africa and much of the rest of the world. Following that example was never going to be easy, and yet Ethiopians under Emperor Haile Selassie were sufficiently inspired by it to again defeat an even greater invading force less than 50 years later.

Then, within the subsequent century, Ethiopia was to face even greater challenge, by a series of people governed by an alien ideology. This may have been the most insidious challenge of all, because those who overthrew Ethiopian governance in 1974 and 1990 knew that the spirit of Adwa would once again prevail, unless they could destroy that spirit once and for all.

Today, however, after the fall of two successive communist tyrannies in Ethiopia, it is the spirit of Adwa which still motivates Ethiopians to resist attempts to destroy three millennia of Ethiopian Solomonic culture. You have just heard from His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias — himself of the Solomonic line — and Professor Tibebe how important the Victory of Adwa remains to Ethiopians.

Without Adwa, modern Ethiopia’s legitimate right to identity, pride, prestige, and leadership would be much harder to grasp.

I am not here to reiterate the wonder of Adwa, or of Menelik or Haile Selassie. You have heard it tonight, and you know it in your hearts and from your learning. You saw it with the great outpouring of youth in Menelik Square in Addis Ababa less than two weeks ago.

The young people of Ethiopia want their history so that they can claim their future.

My goal tonight is to let you know that the Ethiopian Crown remains the beating heart of the history of Ethiopia. The Crown works every day to restore that great serenity of soul, that sense of identity, to all Ethiopians. The Crown Council of Ethiopia, which Emperor Haile Selassie had the sense to integrate into the Ethiopian Constitution in 1955, remains a living institution dedicated to Ethiopia’s protection. The Ethiopian Crown has never gone away. It continues unbroken as the Crown of Ethiopians, and therefore of the embodiment of unity.

Prince Ermias, the President of the Crown Council, has developed unparalleled access to leaders around the world, in a way which politicians — especially those of Ethiopia’s 1974-2018 era — could not hope to achieve. Now, daily, the Crown Council is in contact with its network of friends and contacts across the globe. You will have seen the multiple visits by Prince Ermias to countries where he has had unique access to leaders. And, in recent years, this has turned into an opportunity for the elected Ethiopian Government to the extent that Nigerian ambassadors and diplomats have been invited to join these missions. More such visits are actively being planned, and they have the potential to do great things for Ethiopia and its prestige.

All this work, and much more inside Ethiopia, is undertaken by the Crown Council without the benefit of any tax or other government funding base.

It exists on the donations of individuals, many of them foreigners; and on the goodwill and soul of Ethiopians who yearn for a return to a time of Ethiopian greatness of spirit.

All of you Ethiopians here tonight represent that incredible feeling for the sacredness of Ethiopia, but turn to see all the non-Ethiopians present.

They, too, have been motivated by the spirit of Adwa. They have become part of the great diversity of Ethiopian peoples.

Indeed, events such as this dinner not only renew the faith of us all, but contribute to the operating budget of the Crown. Each birr and every dollar is a blessing which helps to restore the greatness of Ethiopia, and each adds to the humility and bond between the Crown and all Ethiopians.

Soon, you will learn more about one of the great Crown projects: the creation of the Royal Ethiopian Geographical Society. This Society, which has just elected the internationally-renowned Ethiopian scholar, Gerazmach Dr Wolde Tadesse, as its inaugural President, aims to create a non-profit organisation which can be of invaluable service to Ethiopia.

It will begin to gather together all of the vital statistics of Ethiopia to create a center where all of Ethiopia’s terrain is mapped, where all its mineral and other resources can be understood, where its waterways are known, its sociology and history comprehensively documented, and much more. It will combine geology and geophysics; it will employ space-based resources and great human knowledge so that Ethiopians and foreign investors have the tools to develop the nation to its fullest potential.

We are in the process of creating this Society as an Ethiopian legal entity, and we will find a permanent home for it in Ethiopia, using modern technology to link it to all the learning and teaching institutions of Ethiopia. In this, we have been strongly guided by the example of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which has already developed a sister-relationship with our Ethiopian Society. The Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, His Excellency John Geiger, is with us tonight. He has been honoured by the Crown for his dedication in establishing this great endeavour for Ethiopia.

This leads us to the other question which is always close to our lips, And that is: how can we ensure that the Crown Council can function safely at home in Ethiopia? How close are we to seeing that greater formal reunion of the Crown into the legal framework of Ethiopia?

There are ways for this to be accomplished which ensure that constitutionally-based, elected government remains forever in the hands of the Ethiopian People. The Crown must be above politics, and yet part of every level of society. This is how Emperors Menelik and Haile Selassie saw Ethiopia’s future.

How can the Crown be peacefully restored to the land? One thought is that we must acquire a working office for the Crown in Ethiopia, and this would also be a home for the Royal Ethiopian Geographical Society and our Water Initiative for Africa. I would be happy to talk with any of you who may be interested in helping to make this a reality.

It is vital that we demonstrate on the ground that the Crown is always there, and is always committed to supporting the Ethiopian People. The underlying truth of all of this is that the Crown is you, and you are the Crown. What you do for the Crown you do for yourself.

Crown Council Statement on Passing of Patriarch Abune Merkorios

By His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

His Holiness Abune Merkorios I,
Patriarch of Ethiopia 
1938 – 2020
His Holiness Abune Merkorios I,
Patriarch of Ethiopia
1938 – 2022

It is with great sorrow that the Crown Council of Ethiopia marks the passing of Our Holy Father, His Holiness Patriarch Abune Merkorios I, the fourth Patriarch of Ethiopia.  We join with Orthodox Christians and all people of faith in our country in mourning this deeply holy man.

Known as Abba Ze-Libanos Fanta before being elevated to the episcopacy, His Holiness was born in southern Beghemidir Province (Gondar) and received traditional training and church learning at the highest levels from important monasteries in Gojjam and Beghemidir.  He became a monk in 1968 and was consecrated as Bishop of the Diocese of the Ogaden with the name Abune Merkorios in 1978. His Holiness was later named as Archbishop of Gondar, where he served from 1980 to 1988.  Upon the death of Patriarch Abune Tekle Haimanot in 1988, the then Archbishop Abune Merkorios was elected as Patriarch of Ethiopia and was enthroned in August of that year.  His Holiness was the fourth patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to be enthroned since the church gained its independence from the Coptic Orthodox Church.

During the tumult surrounding the fall of the Derg regime in 1991, the new EPRDF government dethroned Abune Merkorios. His Holiness was exiled, first to Kenya and then to the United States, where he was joined by those members of the Holy Synod who rejected his removal from the Patriarchal Throne.  This led to a schism between the exile church and the church inside Ethiopia.  Efforts to heal this rift continued sporadically for 26 years, finally coming to fruition in 2018 when His Holiness Abune Merkorios returned to Ethiopia accompanied by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  This was a promising example of recent attempts at reconciliation in our homeland. Under the terms of the reconciliation, Their Holinesses the two Patriarchs, Abune Merkorios and Abune Mathias, shared the Patriarchal Throne as co-Patriarchs, a shining example of how all things are possible when one embraces the path of peace and reconciliation.

Those of us who knew His Holiness personally cherished him as a great father, spiritual guide, and good friend. While he shared the challenges of exile with us, his bravery in returning from exile inspired us, and his love and magnanimity were a model for everyone. His bravery began a healing process we must all strive to continue, not just in the Orthodox Church but across Ethiopian society. If Patriarch Abune Merkorios can return home to live in peace with all of his people, each of us can too.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to His Holiness Patriarch Abune Mathias, Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of St. Tekle Haimanot; to the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; and to all those who mourn this great and Holy father.

May His Holiness’ blessings be upon us.

Crown Council Statement on the Anniversary of Adwa, 2022

By His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

Ethiopia defeated Italy’s invading armies at the battle of Adwa 126 years ago. Ethiopians celebrate that victory on Yekatit 23 each year. Celebrations in Addis Ababa on that date traditionally take place at Menelik Square, the site of the famous statue commemorating the victorious emperor, Menelik II.

This year, public anticipation and support for these celebrations was larger than ever. This was a heartwarming affirmation of the central place that the Ethiopian Crown holds in the story of Ethiopia’s unity and freedom.

But we still have lessons to learn from this moment. For forty years, our victory at Adwa spared us the horrors of war. When fascist armies occupied our country in 1936, our mothers and fathers fought five long years of resistance. When Menelik’s successor, the Emperor Haile Selassie, returned to Ethiopia in 1941, he stood before Menelik’s palace and called for forgiveness. “Do not return evil for evil,” he told all who would listen. Nearly every Ethiopian has heard stories of their relatives who fought and died to defend our country in that war. How many of us would have the strength to make that same call for forgiveness?

For forty years, our victory at Adwa gave us peace. But this peace would never again last as long. Twice in the next generation we fought wars against Somalia. And at the end of the century, we fought a senseless war against our Eritrean cousins, only recently independent. In between these international crises, we spent some fifteen years locked in a civil war while our people starved. Thirty years after the fall of the Derg, memory of those years leaves us yearning for justice. But we remember one lesson, “Do not return evil for evil.”

Today, our country has pulled back once more from the edge of disaster. We have fought another war against our own brothers and sisters, a war that posed again the question Adwa asked and answered: will our country survive as one? We must reject the temptations of tribalism, of ethnic federalism, of divisions that will break our country every bit as viciously as foreign colonialism. We must remember the blessings of peace, and do everything we can to secure them. We must be magnanimous to each other, and to all sides in our family struggle: “Do not return evil for evil.”

Forty years after Menelik’s victory at Adwa, the Italian occupiers tore down the statue of Menelik. Today, the statue stands strong, and the foreign invaders are gone. Our country is wounded, shaken, but still united. Our people have gathered at the statue to celebrate our victory, and remember its lesson of unity and strength. Some reject that lesson, preferring to think only of their own tribe. But this simply polarizes our people further than before. Polarization leads only to war, and war is not a solution. It is a vicious cycle.

We break that cycle when we work together without compromising our principles. We need to learn from our unique heritage of tolerance and wisdom. Our victory at Adwa and our resistance to fascist occupation were the foundations of our support for African independence from colonialism. They guided our efforts to support freedom fighters in Zimbabwe and South Africa. They guided our negotiations as intermediaries in the conflicts in Biafra, in Congo, and between Morocco and Algeria. They guided our decision to send peacekeeping troops to Congo, Sudan, and Somalia. How far we have fallen that we should think now of receiving such help from others, instead of offering it to the world once more.

Adwa is the lesson we have forgotten, that it took all of us working as one people. We will reach our full potential by once again standing together as one, as we did at Adwa 126 years ago. This will be our greatest victory, a victory which will embed peace, justice, and forgiveness into the very foundations of our society.

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.