The Order of the Holy Trinity was established by Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1930 for his coronation. The Order was generally limited to the nobility, high clergy and a handful of courtiers.
The Order of the Trinity appears to have been awarded to some of the Ethiopian regiments which resisted the occupation of 1936-41 and who took part in the liberation of the country; banners of some regiments have been decorated with the cross of the Order and can be viewed at the Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. Werlich, in his Orders and Decorations of All Nations, noted that the Order was “for outstanding service, civil or military, to the throne”, and that the Order could be awarded to foreigners.1Werlich, Robert: Orders and Decorations of All Nations. Quaker Press.
The Order was originally created in five grades: Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Member (or Chevalier).2Zervos, A. Op Cit. The Crown Council has restored the Order to a one grade honour: that of Knight Grand Cross, with the addition of a Grand Collar in certain extraordinary circumstances. The London medallists, Spink & Co., and Paris jewellers Arthus-Bertrand, make the order, although Bertrand is the only maker of the lapel rosettes of the Order.
The Order is bestowed by the Crown on very distinguished individuals, Ethiopian and foreign, who have served the Council in a variety of rôles as Special Advisors and as Envoys. The Order has also been given to Chamberlains and Chancellors of Royal Houses. The post-nominal identifying initials for this order are GCHT. Holders of the Grand Collar append an asterisk to the initials — GCHT* — to signify the additional honour.
Recent foreign recipients of the Trinity — after the revolution — include, for example, Gen. William Westmoreland, the US military leader who led US forces during the Vietnam War. He was a close friend of Emperor Haile Selassie. whom he visited in Ethiopia in 1971 as his guest. He was installed in 1998 as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Trinity. Among the recent conferrals of Knight Grand Cross of the Holy Trinity with Grand Collar was, in 1998, the Afe-Negus of Ethiopia, Teshome Haile Mariam, who served as Afe-Negus to HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I and HIM Emperor Amha Selassie I, and subsequently to the Crown Council of Ethiopia, from its reconstitution in 1993. He was a former Chief Justice of Ethiopia and Ambassador to the United States. As well, noted Ethiopian-born British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, KBE, DSO, CSE, who had received the Commander of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia at the Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930, was in 1998 made Knight Grand Cross of the Holy Trinity with Grand Collar. HIH Grand Duke George of Russia received the GCHT with Grand Collar in 1998.