Two Princes for the Price of One. A letter to Meghan Markle.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will marry at St George’s Chapel in Windsor today so I think I will write Meghan a letter.

Dear Meghan,

Hope you’re well and congratulations.  There’s  another Prince  at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.  An Ethiopian prince.  He died on 14th November 1879. Prince Alemayhu was taken from Ethiopia by The British Army  after The Battle of Maqdala  led by Robert Napier whose official title is 1st Baron Napier of Maqdala.

His father,  Emperor Tewdros of Ethiopia,   killed himself at the battle of Maqdala. The British Army made the  journey back to the coast ladened with looted goods which are held in The British library and The Victoria and Albert Museum (to name just two places) to this day.  It is reported The Empress Tiruwork Wube died of illness on the Journey.   Meghan you’ll be able to view the looted treasure at your leisure.  Prince Alemayhu, the most valuable of all the loot was  seven years old.

Back in Englad he was paraded in front of Queen Victoria (she’s your relative now) under the suspicious care of a Captain Speedy. Within eleven years  Prince Alemayhu was dead.  He  died ungraciously at 18.  He was  buried at St Georges Chapel.  There is a brass plaque in the nave of St Georges Chapel to commemorate him. he is buried there too.

As a royal princess you can revisit St Georges Chapel at any time. Maybe you will.   The Ethiopian Government requested the return of his remains for reburial in 2007. Meghan you gain  two Princes today.   Being African-American with great grandparents who were also stolen from Africa  i am sure you can see the significance of Ethiopia’s request for his return.   You can visit St Georges Chapel at anytime.

Yours Sincerely



The photographs are taken from a presentation from Alula Pankhurst and Hirit Belai for their presenttaion at Maqdala 150 conference in Gondar on 11th April 2018 

31 thoughts on “Two Princes for the Price of One. A letter to Meghan Markle.

  1. The point is not about justice for Prince Alemayahu, because it’s too late for him, but about respect for Ethiopia. It’s not about guilt: I as a White Brit have no more guilt for Empire and slavery than you, Lemn, a Black Brit. But it’s about acknowledging and accepting our different histories, realising that our shared history gives us a joint responsibility for the world today and tomorrow.

    Ethiopians today are dying in the desert and the sea to try to get to Europe, to the UK. But as Brits, we assume and are actually given the right to go anywhere and do anything. This is a sign of the real injustice in the world. We need to help Ethiopians build their own country, including by having open borders. We opened the borders of the world by force, now we sit on the piles of looted wealth but deny others the right to come and have a share.

    It’s little known that all the guilt tripping sick making “aid” is less than the remittances sent home by people working in rich countries, often illegally, washing cars, cleaning toilets. And that money is spent and moves around within the country, whereas “aid” money often flows straight back here, in contracts and corruption.

    Prince Alemayahu is a powerful symbol, but he is already gone. The grief of people today is the real issue: poverty in Ethiopia, abuse of Ethiopian housemaids/houseslaves in Lebanon, torture of migrants in Libya and Sinai, misery of migrants in Europe, in UK, today, here, now.

    Prince Alemayahu stands for all these, but it doesn’t stop with him.

  2. Thank you for your efforts. But it was also surprising to see the great poet making spelling mistakes. I am encourage with my writing now.

  3. Sorry if my post was over long and over political. But honestly, we are all of us guilty if we don’t do whatever we can for global justice, within our power and understanding. Hope you get where I’m coming from.

  4. Thank you Lemn. I did not know this – but there is a lot of hidden history, isn’t there. And this isn’t even hidden – we just don’t know where to look. I hope Meghan reads this.

    • You’re right Mary. There is a lot of hidden history. And to be honest every culture has selective amnesia when it comes to wrongdoings in their past 😉

  5. I agree with Jim, Lemn, but your letter is still a powerful and timely one. I do not think of you as a Black Brit. I think of you as stolen too. Maybe that is wrong. But you are someone who despite your own pain and grief is making a stand, making a difference, making many of us inspired. I am Welsh and we too have a Prince. He is not Welsh, he is Windsor. Many cultures were exploited and subjugated. And still we rise.

    • Thanks though I am sorry to have put it up on their wedding day I could have and probably should have put it up a month ago. They deserve a day of love as we all do.

  6. Please let Meghan enjoy her day of great happiness with Diana’s dear son Harry and share in a time of love and peace even for a short time Lemn. There will be many demands and expectations put on Meghan in the days ahead but she is a strong woman with a great sense of who she is and she will not allow the guilt of other peoples’ past mistakes and poor choices to be put on her shoulders. That would be such negative energy for someone who has so much to offer to the many desperate needs of the living now and in the future. Meghan has a good heart and is so fortunate to have a Mother who displays such calm wisdom and quiet dignity.With space and time Meghan will make a difference to many but always remember she is human with feelings like you and I Lemn. Peace. Patricia. Armagh.N.I.

    • Patricia on reflection I think my piece was graceless and the timing not the best. I wish them both well. they are a young couple in love. My timing was imperfect and I am imperfect too.

      • I don’t think there’s anything graceless or untimely about it. I don’t think Meghan’s day will be disrupted in the slightest, whereas we are all forcefed a myth of our wonderful total history, she will be protected by armies of courtiers from having to engage with any of Her Majesty’s “subjects”.
        I wish them all the best, but who cares about poverty crushed people all over the world?

        • It’s too easy to fall into the world of convenient cliches Jim to suit our sometimes narrow view on others and can at times lead to great pain ,sorrow and even death as we have found to our cost here in Northern Ireland.
          If we do not learn from our histories and move forward ,we will carry that anger and bitterness to yet another generation. Sometimes it is just nice in this present, harsh and brutal world to enjoy and share, even for a day, in the happiness of a young couple in love. Meghan will, I believe, be a positive voice for many young people and will do her best to improve the lives of others, as much as she will be allowed to now in her new role.We are all imperfect Lemn and Jim. Peace.Patricia. N. Ireland.

  7. Thank you Lemn for your conscious reflections and essential critique of society (past and present). I’m always in awe of your skill using words in all of your literary works. Whereas this letter is not marked with the magical grandeur of words and phrases you are known to employ. Nevertheless, its straight forward appeal to the Brit Royal’s to do right by Prince Alemayehu’s remains and Ethiopia’s looted treasures and artifacts however, is thought provoking and remarkable. I Tipped my hat in respect and gratitude to you sir, for drawing awareness to a hidden history!

  8. Royal Burial in the St George’s Chapel:
    ‘21 November 1879 – Alamayu, Prince of Abyssinia (son of Emperor Teweodros II of Ethiopia), in the catacombs west of the chapel. (He was taken to England by the British forces and made a ward of the British Government in March 1872, educated at Rugby and RMC Sandhurst, and died at Headingley, near Leeds on 14 November 1879, aged 18).’ -(Source: The Chapel of the College of St George), Royal Burials in the St George’s Chapel since 1805.

  9. I’m a Professor at the University of Toronto, adopted at three months old in 1956. By the time I found my birth mother (1993) she had been dead ten years. I found my father’s family last year. Your comment on ‘hard talk’ stuck with me: ‘families are about not talking’. A large part of my scholarhsip is on James Joyce–particularly his story collection Dubliners. The story ‘the sisters’ is a masterpiece of people talking in order to not say what they are thinking. Or the end of his story ‘clay’ where a lonely discarded woman is asked to sing a song. she repeats the first verse twice–the second verse is about being married and happy–and Joyce writes ‘no one tried to show here her mistake’. This SILENT consensus to not makes themselves more uncomfortable . .. . . as you say ‘families are not after ‘truth’ they want to be comfortable’. That helps me understand something that had me perplexed: on the one hand, I am happier knowing about my bio-families, but I was puzzled about how the relationships briefly sprang to life, then stayed rather ‘flat’–not hostile, just not organic, somehow. Your rejoinder to the question ‘will you have ongoing relationships’ was also revealing: ‘you’ll have to ask them’. There was early effort on the part of both birth families to welcome me, but, again, nothing seemed able to build a momentum of its own–like hitting a golf ball, and it flies off the tee with such velocity but then, somewhere down the fair way, it hits the ground , skips forward, then rolls, then slows, then . . .stops. I”m finishing a novel called PROXY (both a reference to adoption and my adoptive Mom had ‘Munchausen by Proxy’. My panic attacks were aggressively misdiagnosed as a heart problem for much of my childhood. My adoptive Mom tried to prevent me from joining the track team because it didin’t make sense I could have a ‘bad’ heart and I could set the school record for the mile. . run. . .I’d like to send you a copy of the novel when it comes out.

    • Please do. I could write you a reply but I am afraid I will be unable to make sentences do what I want them to. Then I’ll try. When I left care at 18 I realised that I wasn’t in touch with anyone who had known me longer than a year or two. I then came to realise that family is a group of people proving the existance of each other over a life time. They do this in obvious and unobvious ways. The obvious examples are birthdays, weddings funerals and christmas. The unobvious ways are in the minds of each family member. They are in touch with their family members by thinking about them by feeling that they know them. . I had no-one in mind to recall. The other thing that I realised about family is that family is a set of disputed memories between one group of people over a life time. I had no-one to dispute the memory of me. It is all about relativity and in real and practical terms I was relative to no-one. This has allowed me to see the nature of family. This has allowed me to see that. dysfunction is at the heart of all functioning families. This has allowed me to build bridges to others who have what I have never had. This has allowed e to see my life as a gift and all lives as gifts. And this is a blessing.

      One of the worst things we do when we find our birth family is expect them to react in the way we want them to. The first thing I realised when I found my birth mother is that I looked exactly like the last time she saw my father, that it wasn’t my story, it was hers. Here was me having the resources, mental and practical, to find her. And there was she havig to have come to terms with the loss fom many years ago, a loss that my physical manifestation embodied.

      I am happier than I have ever been, not that happiness is a given in family, i am not happy because i have found my family I am happy because I have found family in me.

  10. Dear Lemn, what wise words you have written as you come to terms with and find ways to understand the joys and great disappointments a family can offer. This is all part of your healing from the great hurt and injustice you have suffered in your past.As your inner peace and happiness grows I can only imagine how much more you have to offer in the years ahead Lemn.It has been and will at times still be a hard road to walk but one step forward each day is bringing you nearer to the sense of peaceful acceptance and the lessening of the regret for’what might have been’.What a beautiful foundation for Your sense of Family. Here’s to the future Lemn. A beautiful day here in wee Norn Iron today.Patricia.

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