Modern Ethiopian Monarchs Part Eight

The Fall

After months of the military coordinating committee (Dergue) placing members of the Aklilu Haptewold and Endalkatchew Makonnen governments in prison along with the senior military officers, nobility, and regional governors and officials, it became clear that the days of the Emperor on the throne were numbered. The press was full of scathing attacks on the fallen government -- on the corruption and incompetence of the officials and even on the character and the performance of the Emperor himself. The attacks on the Emperor ranged from critic to critic. Some stated his reign had been too long and that he should have abdicated in favor of his son or one of his grandsons long ago, and he was too old and senile to hold state responsibility. More extreme attacks on his character labeled him a thief and a despot. The daily attacks eroded the Emperor's once vast popularity and laid the groundwork for the inevitable. On September 11, 1974, Ethiopians celebrated their New Year, welcoming the year 1967 (according to their version of the Julian Calendar). During the day, truckloads of soldiers spread out from the barracks of the 4th division and took up strategic positions all over the capital. Tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled down the streets of Addis Ababa and Jeeps with mounted machine guns took up guard outside banks, ministries, palaces, and important junctions in the city. Soldiers wore stickers with the slogan "Ethiopia Tikdem" (Ethiopia before all) on their helmets. Rumors swept through the city that Princess Tenagnework and several other members of the Emperor's immediate family had been placed under arrest. Nothing in the press indicated what exactly was going on, but the rumors were true. The Emperor's daughter Princess Tenagnework, his daughter-in-law Princess Sara, the Duchess of Harrar, and all their children were placed under arrest in Addis Ababa. In Tigrai, the hereditary Prince Ras Mengesha Seyoum had already taken to the hills with a band of followers but, at Mekele's castle, his wife Princess Aida Desta (daughter of Princess Tenagnework), along with her daughter and the children of her sister Princess Seble, were arrested and put on a plane back to Addis Ababa; the Imperial family was systematically rounded up. Rumors swept the city about the action, but nothing official was announced. Late in the day, as was traditional, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Theophilos, gave his yearly New Year's Address on national television and radio. In his speech, the Patriarch likened Ethiopia to a ship in stormy seas, charting a new path into the future. At the end of the speech, for the first time ever, he failed to bless the Emperor and the Imperial family and, instead, he wished success to the mission of the co-ordinating committee. For the Emperor's loyalists, it was a jarring and shocking development. In 1960, Abune Basilios had condemned any attempt to dethrone the man anointed by the Church and stood firm against the Imperial Guard's coup attempt. That his successor should make a statement that seemed to abandon the Emperor to his fate was a shock. To compound this, Ethiopian television showed the Ethiopian public the BBC production of the Hidden Famine by Jonathan Dimbleby. The film, showing the horrifying famine in Wollo with scenes of death and starvation, was damaging enough on its own, but the Dergue re-edited the film to include footage of lavish palace banquets and ceremonies in honor of the Emperor's 80th birthday, the marriage of Prince Asrate Kassa's daughter, and other glittering court events. The Emperor was also shown feeding his pet leopards and dogs choice cuts of meat from silver platters held by liveried servants. People watching the film in public places were seen to weep. No mention was made of the Aklilu cabinet hiding the famine from the Emperor or of the octogenarian Emperor being out of touch. The film was made to make him seem heartless and steeped in luxury while his people suffered untold misery. It was the final nail in the coffin of Haile Selassie's reign and the world's oldest monarchy.

The following morning, September 12th, 1974 (Meskerem 2, 1967 Ethiopian calendar), ten junior officers who were members of the Dergue arrived at the Jubilee Palace, which was surrounded for the first time by tanks and gun-mounted Jeeps. A small crowd of mostly males gathered outside the gates suspiciously at the same time as the ten officers. The officers were led by Major Debela Dinsa, and their mission was to inform the King of Kings that his reign was over and to remove him from his palace. Concerned that he might not be cooperative, the Dergue asked Ras Imiru Haile Selassie, the Emperor's cousin, life-long companion, and socialist sympathizer, to come with them to convince him to step down peacefully. Ras Imiru was also the father of Lij Michael Imiru, the recently appointed Prime Minister. The officers were all armed with Uzi sub-machineguns and revolvers, and some had grenades strapped to their belts. The senior prince and junior officers waited at the gates for a camera crew from Ethiopian Television to show up. Much to their irritation, the camera crew did not materialize, and when calls were made, it became apparent that Ethiopian Television had not been informed of the event so they scrambled to get a camera man to the palace at once. The small group then entered the palace and asked to see the Emperor. The palace no longer had throngs of courtiers and noblemen attending the Emperor's person -- only the servants walked the halls. Debela Dinsa's account (referred to in Guenet Ayele's book "Ye Colonel Mengistu Tizitawoch" as "Dergue member 11" at a transparent attempt at anonymity) states that the encounter between the Emperor and the group of officers took place in the Grand Throne Room, but the film of the event indicates it took place either in the Palace library or the Emperor's study. The film is quite compelling -- the armed soldiers stood in a line facing the Emperor with Debela Dinsa standing at the center of the line. He stepped forward and saluted before producing from his pocket a speech which he read out loud to the Emperor. The letter was a decree of the Dergue removing Haile Selassie I from the Imperial throne and charging him with abuse of power, lack of competence to continue to reign due to his advanced age, and the additional charge of embezzling the money of the people. The Emperor listened to the speech in silence. Debela Dinsa's hands were visibly shaking throughout his reading of the speech, and his fellow soldiers, although armed to the teeth, seemed awed and nervous while the Emperor sat, regal in his bearing and completely silent. Once the speech was finished, the Emperor continued to sit completely silent -- just looking at the soldiers. Debela Dinsa freely admits in his account of the event that he was awed and frightened in the Emperor's presence, and he completely understood the stories that even though the Emperor was such a small frail old man, there was something about him that compelled you to bow low before him. As the nervous tension increased in the room, Ras Imiru approached the Emperor and they spoke in low tones for an extended time. The Emperor then spoke. His statement was simple and moving. He stated that all through his life, he had tired endlessly for the benefit of his country and his people, and that one's individual desires could not come ahead of the needs of the nation. The Emperor's role was to lead in good times and bad and to serve his people always and without fail. If it was determined that this was for the greater good of Ethiopia, then he would accept the decision and do what was required of him. After another nervous extended silence, still referring to the Emperor as "Your Majesty", Debela Dinsa asked that the Emperor accompany him and his fellow officers to a place where he "would be safe and comfortable". The Emperor asked, "Where are you taking me?". Debela Dinsa replied that a place had been prepared for "Your Majesty" that would offer comfort and protection. The Emperor asked if he could bring some retainers. Debela Dinsa said that he would be allowed some retainers, but for the time being, the Emperor was to bring just one servant with him. The Emperor called out to his servant Merid, who came quickly. The Emperor rose and started to walk out with the officers. Ras Imiru, visibly moved, asked if he could come with the Emperor. The soldiers informed "His Highness" that he could not come with them, but that he could come see the Emperor later in the day. As the Emperor walked past Debela Dinsa, he asked him, "Why are you holding your gun like that?" -- referring to the Uzi in Debela Dinsa's hands. Debela Dinsa nervously replied that it was so he could carry the gun more comfortably. The Emperor smirked and said, "I think not -- I think it's so you can shoot it more easily." and swept by him. As the Emperor walked through the palace with his armed escort, liveried servants began to gather and follow. They all looked shocked and bewildered. When they arrived at the front portico, footmen, maids, Imperial guards, gardeners, and other staff, both male and female, had gathered on the steps and at the windows of the palace. Debela Dinsa said most of the men looked stunned and many were staring at their shoes or the ground. It was obvious to them what was happening, and most were openly weeping. A small caravan of vehicles pulled up. The Emperor caught sight of the car which was to take him away from the Jubilee Palace for the last time. It was a small baby blue volkswagen beetle, which was a far cry from the Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz limousines that he was accustomed to. Members of the Dergue have since claimed that this car was chosen in order to take the Emperor away with maximum anonymity to protect him from the anger of the people -- not to humiliate him in any way. However, this is belied by the fact that the small car was escorted in front and back by two Jeeps with mounted machine guns, making it just about the most-conspicuous car in the city. For years afterwards, the Dergue would often display this car in public as the final humiliating end of Haile Selassie's reign, so this statement is obvious in its absurdity. As the Emperor was driven away, his servants began to wail and weep loudly, with many beating their chests as if at a traditional funeral. Of all his former subjects, the staff of his palaces, people with little power and relatively small personal gain from his reign, have remained the most consistantly loyal to the Emperor's memory. Once outside the gates, however, the scene changed dramatically. The small crowd of men which had gathered opposite the palace gates began to scream "Thief! Thief! Thief!" at the Emperor as he passed. They followed the little group of cars as they drove slowly through the city, running after them and screaming abuse. Members of the Dergue have claimed that this was a spontaneous demonstration by people who were enraged at the Emperor following the previous night's broadcast of "The Hidden Famine". The Dergue leader and subsequent dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in an interview with biographer Genet Ayele told her that he found the denunciations of the Emperor distasteful and hated the fickleness of these people who only weeks earlier would have bowed to the ground before him. This statement, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt, as Mengistu spent his entire rule of Ethiopia trying to demolish the memory of Haile Selassie and his reign. However, others have stated that the group of young men, who suspiciously gathered at the gates just as the group of officers arrived to enter the palace that morning, were actually a group of soldiers ordered by the Dergue to appear in civilian dress in order to give the dethronement a look of civilian approval and perhaps also to humiliate Haile Selassie I. If this was the case, it was an unnecessary and cruel measure, for within minutes of Radio Ethiopia announcing that Haile Selassie I had been removed from the Imperial throne, students from the University that still bore his name ran through the streets with burning and torn portraits of the Emperor. The always radically leftist and ardently anti-monarchist students were jubilant, and they quickly took up cries of "Taffari Thief" and sang songs sarcastically depicting the wailing of the aristocracy at the end of their days eating fine lamb and chicken. They tossed flowers at the soldiers guarding the city and sang the praises of the Dergue and the Ethiopian revolution. Around the world, leaders and governments hailed the peaceful transfer of power in Ethiopia, commending the military for carrying out the coup in a civilized and bloodless manner. Cries of "Etyopia Tikdem" (Ethiopia before all) and the even more ambitious "Yaleminim Dem Etyopia Tikdem" (Without any bloodshed, Ethiopia before all) were quickly incorporated into a popular song and heard on the streets, television, and radio. Ethiopia was supposedly embarking on a bright and happy future, emerging from centuries of darkness and backwardness. It would be only a very short time later that the hollowness and falseness of these dreams would be dreadfully apparent. In the immediate aftermath of the dethronement, the Dergue issued a decree establishing itself as the Provisional Military Admimistrative Council (PMAC) and declared martial law. The constitution was suspended, the Imperial court disbanded, and the Emperor's Chilot (which was the Supreme Court of the land) abolished, as was the Crown Council. Parliament was immediately disolved. The Dergue did not, however, formally abolish the monarchy at that time. Instead, it was announced that Crown Prince Asfa Wossen would be anointed "King" of Ethiopia (as opposed to Emperor) upon his return from medical care in Switzerland. In the following days, it was announced that the title of Conquering Lion of Judah would henceforth be changed to Conquering Lion of Ethiopia, and that Prince Asfa Wossen was to be a strictly titular monarch with no political power whatsoever. The brief period of freedom of the press was ended as part of the emergency measures of martial law and would never see the light of day again for 17 years. The Dergue, in an effort to gain support from more liberal elements, announced that Lt. General Aman Michael Andom would serve as its new Chairman and acting Head-of-State and Head-of-Government. General Aman was an Eritrean-born veteran in his youth of the war against Italy and a renowned Ethiopian patriot. Unlike most of the Ethiopian heirarchy, he was not an Orthodox Christian, but he was instead born and raised a Protestant (Lutheran). He had attended Sandhurst on an Imperial scholarship and was generally regarded as one of the finest officers in the Ethiopian Army, and he was widely popular with the rank and file of the military as well as the general civilian population. General Aman had an impeccable military record and was referred to as the "Lion of the Ogaden" due to his heroic role in turning back the Somali invasion of the Ogaden in the early 1960's. However, his outspoken support for reform had alienated him from the Imperial government, and he had been retired from active military service. The Emperor, in an act he often carried out on public figures who were outspoken in their critisism of his regime, had appointed General Aman to the Imperial Senate (this was the type of punishment that would soon be looked back on with fondness by political dissidents in Ethiopia. It was noted the Emperor used to punish people with appointments to prestigious yet powerless positions or foreign ambassadorships). General Aman was popular, and the Dergue was confident that he would lend them added legitimacy. One of his first public acts was to announce that Ras Mengesha Seyoum was to henceforth be regarded as a traitor and an outlaw and that he was not only stripped of his governorship of Tigrai but also stripped of his princely title. He further issued an immediate recall to Prince Makonnen (David), second son of the late Duke of Harrar, to immediately leave his military studies in the United States and return to Ethiopia at once. David Makonnen promptly went into hiding.

Following his dethronement, the Emperor was taken from his palace to the barracks of the 4th Division on Debre Zeit Road (near the rail line into the city), where most of the members of his government and his court were imprisoned. According to his doctor, noted surgeon Professor Asrat Woldeyes (he was later the founder of the All Amhara People's Organization in the post-Dergue era), who was brought to see him, he spent his first night there in a large tent with a machine gun set up facing the entrance from the outside. The next morning, however, he was moved into the vacant house of one of the senior officers on the grounds of the barracks. He was visited here by Ras Imiru and Dejazmatch Kebede Tessema, the only two Crown Councilors to escape arrest, as well as his doctor. He was waited on by members of the palace staff, and his meals were cooked at the palaces and brought to the 4th Division daily. The new government sent delegation after delegation to the Emperor to demand that he return the "billions" that they charged he had stolen from the people of Ethiopia. The Emperor steadfastly denied that he had secreted money abroad for his own benefit or for his descendants. Some sources say that he admitted that a modest sum had been sent to Switzerland to cover the medical costs of the Crown Prince and the living expenses of the Crown Princess and her daughters, but he denied that any other money had been sent abroad. The Dergue even convinced Ras Imiru to plead with the Emperor to return any money he might have taken. What the Emperor must have felt at seeing his own cousin, the one person who could claim to be a brother to him, co-opted into this effort can only be imagined. Ras Imiru, who had long enjoyed a good reputation in all quarters of Ethiopian society, would now earn a serious blemish on his record for his role in this matter. When a sarcastic Dergue officer (some say it was Mengistu himself) is said to have asked the Emperor, "Surely Your Majesty must have had some savings put away for hard times, for your retirement." The Emperor haughtily responded, "Retirement? The Emperor of Ethiopia has no retirement. His retirement is death. Therefore, there was never any need to save for retirement." On another occasion, he was accused of having stolen the equivalent of U.S. $20 billion. It is said he wearily stated, "How poorly we have failed in educating you in math." After all, the country at that time only had a gross domestic product of two billion (U.S.), so the assertion of the theft of $20 billion was preposterous. The Dergue decided it would take on more of the formal trappings of government and assume the mantle of state by moving from its erstwhile headquarters at the 4th Division Barracks into the Imperial Palace (Great Guibi), built by Emperor Menelik II. All the prisoners were removed from the barracks and placed in the wine cellars of the palace -- the Emperor himself was moved into Inqulal Bet (Egg House) on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. This house, built by Emperor Menelik, was named for its egg-shaped dome and had previously been used by Empress Zewditu while she was still a Princess and helping to nurse her ill father Emperor Menelik II. The house had a small flower garden where the confined Emperor would take daily walks. However, when palace staff as well as soldiers posted to guard him continued to bow and pay him customary homage, the Dergue ordered a tall fence of corrugated tin to be built around the garden to block him from view. His place of detention was right next to the Se'el Bet Kidane Meheret Church (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy), which is located on the grounds of the palace. Denied permission to attend services at the Church, he would instead stand at an open window overlooking the church and listen to the liturgy over the public address system of the church, making the responses as required. He continued to be attended by loyal servants, but he was repeatedly subject to visits by officials and "intermediaries" demanding bank account numbers and admissions of embezzelment, all which he steadfastly denied to the very end. The Emperor's signet ring, which bore the emblem of St. George slaying the Dragon, was taken from him and found to contain a spring mechanism that bore a key. The Dergue triumphantly proclaimed that it had found the key to a safety deposit box somewhere in Switzerland and demanded to know the location of the box. The Emperor's servants protested that the key was only used to open an attache case that the Emperor had, but the Dergue was only interested in furthering their search for money and destroying the Emperor's reputation. They ordered a committee of University Professors to study the ring and find any hidden codes or bank account numbers. They even went so far as to remove the stones that surrounded the signet. Nothing was found, and the existence of a fortune stashed abroad for the Emperor and his family was never proven. It appears that the key really was just for an attache case.

In the meantime, the "Revolution" started to heat up. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was removed as the state religion and an "Equality of Faith" declared. Even as students, intellectuals, and former political dissidents debated the future of the Ethiopian state and what form it should take, things were changing at the top. General Aman Andom was a forceful leader and used to firm military discipline. The antics of the Dergue, with its collection of low-level officers acting in defiance of their superior officers, were not to his tastes. The Dergue had wanted a figure-head in General Aman, but it instead got a dynamic leader with ideas of his own, including a suspicion of their motives as well as a driving ambition to be the new power in the land. Soon, the Dergue and its leaders, Colonel (formerly Major) Mengistu Haile Mariam and Colonel Atnafu Abate, were in a direct collision course with General Aman Michael Andom. The Dergue wanted to authorize a new major deployment of troops in Eritrea to put down the secessionist rebellion there. General Aman argued that a chance should be given to negotiations with the rebels now that a new government had come to power in Ethiopia. Dergue members looked at his argument with suspicion since General Aman was of Eritrean background. They began to whisper that the General wanted to resurrect the old Federation and that his loyalty to a united Ethiopia was questionable. There was also the issue of the imprisoned ex-officials of the Imperial Government under arrest in the wine cellars of the Great Guibi. Although General Aman was the leader of the government that had put them there, these people were his former fellow officers, fellow senators, colleagues, and many he counted as personal friends. Their alleged misdeeds were being researched by the "Investigating Committee", led by such figures as Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam (later leader of Ethiopia 's major human rights organization), Dr. Bereket Hapte Selassie (future author of the unimplemented constitution of Independent Eritrea), and Colonel Goshu Wolde (future Dergue foreign minister turned political dissident and founder of the Medhin politcal party). Weary of their long-winded investigations, the Dergue demanded results. There was lobbying to simply summarily execute the major figures of the Imperial regime immediately. General Aman was said to have balked at this and refused to ever sign any extra-judicial decision to sentence anyone to imprisonment or execution. Matters quickly came to a head -- the Dergue demanded that General Aman sign their collective decision to send new troops to Eritrea to crush the rebels. General Aman refused and, in a heated exchange, Generla Aman announced his resignation as Chairman of the Dergue and left the meeting hall for his home along with several of his supporters. After he refused several personal and telephoned summons to return to the Palace and meet with the Dergue, a meeting was called, chaired by Mengistu Haile Mariam, to decide what to do about this situation. In addition to the Dergue, Mengistu claims he also summoned the Neus Dergue, a rag-tag crowd of soldiers and low-ranking officers several hundred strong, to attend the meeting as well and that this group subsequently forced his hand by going to extremes. Others say that Mengistu simply used this group to provide him and the smaller Dergue with political cover from the future backlash to the fateful decisions they were about to make. After a case was presented to the meeting for General Aman's perceived treasonous behavior, it was agreed that an armed unit should immediately be dispached to the General's home and he be escorted back to the palace at once. If he resisted, then force would be used. The subject then turned to the issue of the prisoners in the wine cellars under the palace floors on which they were conducting their meeting. According to Mengistu, it was the Neus Dergue who demanded that the matter of the prisoners be decided at once, and that he was a reluctant participant in what followed. However, it is more likely that subsequent events were exactly what Mengistu wanted and that all the events were carefully engineered to bring about the results he desired. One by one, the names of prisoners were read out and cries of "Kill him" and "Let him live" decided the fates of the men who had governed the country for decades. Following this meeting, on the night of November 23, 1974, soldiers surrounded the home of General Aman Michael Andom and demanded his surrender. When he refused, they opened fire, and the General and a group of supporters fired back. After a fierce but brief firefight, a large explosion demolished the General's house and its occupants were all killed. Some claim it was blown up by the General and his followers in an act of Theodorean suicide. With this act completed, the armed unit returned to the palace in the heart of the night and awoke the prisoners. One by one, 58 prisoners were summoned by name and led out of the cellars. When they asked where they were being taken, they were either not given answers or told they were being taken to the central prison. Some of them may have been pleased at being taken to the prison, as that would allow their families to start visiting them again as they had done when they were imprisoned at the 4th Division. Others, such as Ras Mesfin Sileshi, are said to have almost immediatly commented, "We are being taken to our deaths." The former governor to the Imperial Household, Blata Admassu Retta, was removed from his death bed at the Haile Selassie I Hospital in order that he be executed. The Eritrean-born veteran of the war with Italy, the elderly General Isayas, was also taken on a stretcher from the hospital to his execution. Prince Asrate Kassa is said to have been loaded into the back of an army truck in a wheelchair. The selected prisoners were driven in trucks and buses to the Akaki Prison (also known as Kerchele) to its Alem Bekagn (which translates to Finished with the World) section. Under bright spot lights, they were machine-gunned to death and their bodies tossed into a freshly-dug trench nearby; their remains were promptly covered with dirt by bulldozers. On the night of Friday, November 23, 1974, the so-called "Bloodless Revolution" of the Dergue showed its true face. The next day, the city awoke to the spreading rumor that General Aman had been toppled (and possibly killed) and there had been a change of leadership overnight, but the population had no idea of the scale of the previous night's events. Then, as the people of the counry sat down to lunch on Saturday, November 24, Radio Ethiopia announced the names of the 58 ex-officials of the Imperial Government, complete with military, official, and noble titles along with the names of Lt. General Aman Michael Andom and the two Dergue members who had died with him. As people waited to hear news of either additional charges, trial dates or pardons, they instead heard the announcement that all of the aforementioned had been executed for abuse of power and crimes against the people. Their "ceremony of burial" had been conducted and it was not permitted for family members to ask for their bodies. They never had a chance to defend themselves in open court, as so many of them had been sure they would be allowed to do when they surrendered peacefully. Immediately a dark mood descended on the city as the horror of the day sank in. In a courageous act of defiance, the widows and close relatives of the deceased opened their homes to mourners -- their houses were thronged with weeping people. The wife of one of the Generals walked up and down the street in front of her house waving his ceremonial sword -- crying out to all who passed that her brave lion had been killed by "these girls..these cowards.. who had to tie his hands because they were afraid to fight him." The women and children of the Imperial family are said to have learned of the execution of the ex-officials at the Duchess of Harrar's palace where they had been all confined on an upper floor together. One of Prince Asrate Kassa's younger sons leaned out the window to listen to a radio being played by the soldier guards below when he heard the name of his father and other former officials. His hysterical screams brought the entire family running to hear him. As the women and children panicked and hysteria began to set in, soldiers rushed in and ordered them to be quiet, telling them the boy had misheard and that all that had been announced was the trial of the prisoners -- nothing esle. The next day, however, a Dergue member arrived and informed them of the deaths of six people who the Dergue had determined were Imperial relatives. In fact, the Imperial family had lost 11 relatives of various degrees that day; Prince Asrate Kassa, the Emperor's cousin, and Prince Rear-Admiral Iskinder Desta, the Emperor's grandson, were the most prominent family members. When the women tearfully asked to be allowed to visit their graves with a priest, they were scolded and ordered never to ask such a question again. There is no public record provided on what the Emperor's reaction was to the deaths, but it must have been profound.

The last known photograph taken of the Emperor while he was under detention in the Great Guibi (Menelik) Palace, shortly before his death in 1975

Scene from the reburial of His Late Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, November 5, 2000

His Imperial Higness Crown Prince Asfa Wossen (His Imperial Majesty Amha Selassie I, Emperor-in-Exile)

Crown Prince Merid Azmatch Asfa Wossen, Emperor-in-Exile, Amha Selassie I

Prince Asfa Wossen was born in Harrar in August of 1916. He was the son of the then-governor of Harrar, Dejazmatch Tefferi Makonnen (later Emperor Haile Selassie) and Woizero (later Empress) Menen. Dejazmatch Tefferi Makonnen's father was the son of Ras Makonnen Wolde Michael (the first cousin of Emperor Menelik II) and Woizero Yeshimebet Ali of Wollo. Ras Makonnen's mother was Tenagnework Sahle Selassie, daughter of King Sahle Selassie of Shewa and sister to King Haile Melekot of Shewa. Prince Asfaw Wossen's mother Menen was the daughter of Asfaw, the Jantirar of Ambassel, an ancient hereditary title of Wollo. Her mother was Woizero Sehin Michael, daughter of King Michael of Wollo, and half-sister of Lij Eyasu.

Within his first year of life, Prince Asfa Wossen's life went through a great change as his great-uncle, Lij Eyasu, was deposed, and his father became Crown Prince and Regent of Ethiopia. He was now second-in-line to the throne. In 1930, upon the death of Empress Zewditu, his parents were proclaimed Emperor and Empress. On November 2, 1930, Asfa Wossen was anointed Crown Prince of Ethiopia at his father's coronation at the age of 13, and he took an oath of loyalty. He was given the title of Merid Azmatch and was made governor (initially just titular) of Wollo, as he was the great-grandson of the last king of Wollo. In 1933, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen was married to Princess Wollete Israel Seyoum, daughter of Ras Seyoum Mengesha Prince of Tigre, and great-granddaughter of Emperor Yohannis IV. The Princess had previously been married to Dejazmatch Gebre Selassie Baria-Gabr, a noble of Tigre, and had a son by him, Dejazmatch Zewde Gebre Selassie. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess would have one daughter, Princess Ijigayehu Asfaw Wossen.

Crown Prince Asfa Wossen with the Imperial Pet Lions

Crown Prince Asfa Wossen was groomed for the throne, but measures were taken that would prevent a rival court from forming around him as had formed around his father during the reign of Empress Zewditu. His province of Wollo was among the most troublesome in the Empire. Although the people were largely sympathetic to him as the great-grandson of their king, the Wolloyes still smarted from their defeat at Segelle and the imprisonment of King Michael. Strong currents of Eyasuism remained in Wollo and would remain for years to come, especially among the Muslims of Wollo. The province would prove to be difficult to rule for the Addis Ababa government and would be the source of endless trouble for it. Wollo would prove to be the last nail in the coffin of Emperor Haile Selassie's reign with the famine there during the 1970's. With the Italian invasion of 1935, the Crown Prince's province became the main staging ground for the Emperor's campaign. However, with the defeat of the Imperial forces at Maychew in southern Tigrai, the Raya and Azebo Oromos of Wollo rose up and began to attack the retreating Imperial Army as the Italians marched southward. They were said to have been motivated by the opportunity to exact revenge for being raided in punishment for their attacks on other neighboring tribes in the previous years. This was further compounded by the news that Lij Eyasu had died in imprisonment, and there was a widespread suspicion that he had been murdered. Emperor Haile Selassie, who was retreating from the battle at Maychew, was attacked several times during his detour to Lalibella where he went to pray in the face of his impending defeat. Once the Emperor arrived in Addis Ababa, the decision to go into exile was made, and Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, Crown Princess Wollete Israel, their daughter, and the rest of the Imperial family, boarded a train with the Emperor and Empress and fled to Djibouti. Following a short stay in Jerusalem, the Imperial family moved to Britain, where the Emperor bought Fairfield House in Bath. They would remain there for the next five years. At some point during this time, Princess Wollete Israel left England and moved to Egypt with her daughter. The Crown Prince and Princess would later be divorced. Crown Prince Asfa Wossen used his time in exile to enter the University of Liverpool to study Political Science, the first heir to the throne to do so.

At the time of the war of Liberation in 1941, the Crown Prince accompanied his father to the Sudan and, together with the Duke of Harrar, was with their father when he crossed the border back into Ethiopia and raised the Imperial Flag at Omedla. He then returned to the Sudan to study at the Sobat Military Acadamy while his father led Gideon force into Gojjam. He returned to his father's side with the Duke of Harrar to attend the triumphal re-entry of the Emperor into Addis Ababa on May 5, 1941-- exactly five years to the day of the city's fall to the Italians. The Crown Prince commanded the joint Ethiopian and British forces which captured Gondar, the last city held by the Italians, later that year. Following the liberation, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen was named acting governor of Tigrai (until the hereditary Prince, his ex-father-in-law, Ras Seyoum was re-appointed) and acting governor of Begemidir and Semien. He remained governor of Wollo until the deposition.

Emperor Amha Selassie and Empress Medferiashwork when they were Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Ethiopia

Crown Prince Asfa Wossen re-married in 1945. The new Crown Princess was Medferiashwork Abebe, daughter of General Abebe Damtew, and niece of the late Ras Desta Damtew, who was the husband of Princess Tenagnework Haile Selassie. Crown Prince Asfa Wossen and Crown Princess Medferiashwork would have three daughters, Princesses Mariam Sena, Sehin, and Sifrash Bizu, and a son, Prince Zere Yacob. Prince Asfaw Wossen's daughter by his first marriage, Princess Ijigayehu was married in the 1950's to Dejazmatch Fikre Selassie Hapte Mariam, son of the hereditary ruler of Leqa Neqemt, and later governor of Wellega. He was also the brother of Princess Mahisente Hapte Mariam, wife of Prince Sahle Selassie. Princess Ijigayehu and Dejazmatch Fikre Sellassie would become the parents of six children, three sons and three daughters. Crown Prince Asfa Wossen's daughter from his second marriage, Princess Mariam Sena (known as Mary), married Lij Seyfu Zewde and had two sons. His daughter, Princess Sifrash, also married and his son, Prince Zere Yacob, was married in exile to Nunu Getaneh and had a daughter, Princess Lideta.

Crown Prince Asfa Wossen and Crown Princess Medferiashwork with Prince Zere Yacob


In December of 1960, Emperor Haile Selassie departed for a state visit to Brazil. Soon after his departure, the Officers of the Imperial Guard, led by their Commander, Lt. General Mengistu Newaye, and his brother, Girmame, launched a coup attempt. After seizing key points in the capital, they placed the leading figures of the nobility and the government under arrest in the Green Salon in the Guenete Leul Palace. Empress Menen, Princess Tenagnework, and the Duchess of Harrar, along with their children, were placed under guard at their respective homes (Empress Menen had for some time spent much of her time in a one-story villa near the Guenete Leul Palace because her illness made negotiating stairs at the palace too difficult). Crown Prince Asfa Wossen was forced to go on the radio and announce that the Imperial Guard had overthrown the Emperor, and that he was assuming the throne. He announced that he would be a constitutional monarch and would "live on a salary". He also announced that this was done to liberate Ethiopians from poverty and backwardness. He further announced that his cousin, Ras Imiru, was to be Prime Minister and that Lt. General Mulugueta Bulli would be Chief-of-Staff. Ras Imiru, also a captive, was forced to yield. General Mulugueta was not cooperative and subsequently held prisoner in the Green Salon. However, the coup leaders made certain key mistakes. They failed to win over or arrest the commanders of the regular army, and they failed to seize three key figures. One was Prince Asrate Kassa, the leading conservative nobleman, another was Crown Princess Medferiashwork, and the third was Prince Sahle Selassie. Crown Princess Medferiashwork, convinced that her husband was being forced to accept the throne, played an important role. She and her children had been left alone in their house, so she contacted the commanders of the Army and met them in her house with Prince Asrate Kassa and the other nobles who had eluded capture. This enabled them to coordinate their efforts and resolve to refuse to accept the coup. Prince Sahle Selassie was a ham radio hobbyist; he was also left alone in his home, so he was able to send out a message to ham radio opperators that the Imperial Guard in Ethiopia had launched a coup against his father. The ham radio operators around the world were able to contact the Emperor's plane on its way to Brazil, and he promptly turned back. The final straw was when the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Baslios, refused to recognize the new government. Instead, he issued an excommunication against those who had defied the monarch anointed by the church and called on the people not to accept them as their rulers. This edict was printed and scattered all over Addis Ababa by Army helicopters. News arrived that the Emperor had landed in Asmara and that the population there had turned out by the thousands to greet him in an act of loyalty. The army then stormed the Guenete Leul Palace, pushing out the Imperial Guards and freeing the Crown Prince and Ras Imiru. However, the coup leaders fled, but not before machine-gunning the prisoners in the Green Salon, killing many of the leading figures of the nobility and the government. The Emperor returned and order was restored.

Following the 1960 coup attempt, the public began to speculate as to whether the Crown Prince was an active participant in the attempt to overthrow his father. His radio address to the people was explained to have been given under extreme duress. However, it had long been rumored that he was far more liberal in his outlook than his father and that he favored reducing the role of the monarchy from the all-powerful position it held to a symbolic constitutional one. It led many to believe that the Prince may have, at the very least, sympathised with some of the plotter's ideals if not having had a direct part in their schemes. It was thought significant that the Prince and Ras Imiru, two men of the dynasty known to have liberal leanings, were removed from the Green Salon and sent upstairs in the Palace before the Guards massacred the imprisoned nobles and officials. In an audience with some peace corps officials that he granted in the mid-sixties, Prince Asfa Wossen stated that he recognized the need for extensive land reform and implied that there would be changes in the role of the monarchy in his reign. The Crown Prince remained the legal and hereditary heir to the throne, however, and reformers of monarchist sympathies decided to patiently wait for his turn on the Throne of Solomon. Some more conservative elements, however, are said to have wondered if there were not a way to bypass the Prince and either enthrone his underage-son Prince Zere Yacob or one of the sons of the Duke of Harrar under a regency. Some are said to have whispered of a regency under the conservative Prince Asrate Kassa, while others speculated that this Prince should himself be made Emperor as his blood descent from Solomon was equal to that of the Crown Prince. Others went so far as to wish that women had not been removed from the succession by the 1955 constitution, as this might have allowed the more conservative Princess Tenagnework to succeed her father. However, these rumorers probably weren't taking into account the close personal bond between Princess Tenagnework and her brother the Crown Prince and her fierce loyalty to him. Many were convinced that the succession of the Crown Prince might cause upheaval between the liberal and conservative interests within the government and across the Empire. But this would never be tested. In 1973, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen suffered a massive stroke, an act which paralyzed him. He was rushed to Switzerland for treatment and his wife and children accompanied him. As most people did not belive that the Prince would survive, and as the stability of the country came under increasing assault from student protests and economic stresses caused by the OPEC embargo of 1973, pressure increased on the Emperor Haile Selassie to name an heir from the younger generation. The Emperor resisted. The Crown Prince was still the legal heir and, unless he were to die, the Emperor did not see any need to name another heir. However, with the Emperor himself in his eighties, the future looked more and more uncertain, and the embattled government of Prime Minister Endalkachew Makonnen continued to urge him to name another heir. The conservatives, encouraged by the possibility of realizing their hopes for an underage Emperor governed by a conservative regency, lent their strong support. Finally, the Emperor announced that his grandson, Prince Zere Yacob Asfa Wossen, son of the Crown Prince, would become "Acting Crown Prince" while his father was in ill health. This was taken to mean that Prince Zere Yacob was now an "Heir Presumptive" pending the death of the "Heir Apparent" Prince Asfa Wossen, which was expected at any time. Prince Zere Yacob was a student at Oxford at the time, and he accepted the new title with appropriate dignity. The position of "Acting Crown Prince", however, was unprecedented in the histories of the monarchies of the world, and the Emperor was clearly reluctant to create this title which seemed to anticipate the death of his son. Ironically, the Crown Prince would not only survive, but he would outlive almost all of the officials who had been certain that he was at death's door and also those who perhaps eagerly looked forward to a conservative regency.

But things did not proceed as they envisioned. The entire cabinets of both Prime Minister Endalkatchew Makonnen and Ex-Prime Minister Aklilu Haptewold, the military leaders, the various governors and officials at various levels, aristocrats of all ranks, and aides of the Emperor himself were placed under arrest one by one by the new military coordinating commitee. The arrests continued from February 1974 into August in what came to be known among westerners as the "creeping coup". Noblemen, ministers, officers, judges, and dignitaries of the Imperial court were rounded up and placed under arrest at the Fourth Army Division headquarters in southeastern Addis Ababa by the Military Coordinating Committe known as the Dergue. The Dergue had been formed under an Imperial Charter to investigate the causes of various military mutinies and insurrections that had spread across the Empire over the previous year. They extended their mandate to cover the right to investigate government corruption and used this to sweep up the bulwarks of Ethiopia's ruling class. On September 11, 1974, all members of the Imperial Family in Ethiopia were placed under arrest. The next day, September 12, Emperor Haile Selassie was removed from the Jubilee Pallace and his deposition was announced to the world. As noted in earlier sections of this document, the new military government announced that Crown Prince Asfa Wossen would become "King" rather than Emperor and that the title Conquering Lion of Judah would become "Conquering Lion of Ethiopia". Furthermore, the cross would be removed from the staff in the Lion symbol. Upon this news, reporters assembled outside the residence in Geneva where the Crown Prince and his family were staying. A spokesman came out to state that the Prince had no comment on the developments and that he had received no summons from Addis Ababa. He also spoke of the concern for the safety of the Emperor and the other members of the Imperial family that was shared by those members of the family outside Ethiopia . Two months later, on November 24, 1974, Addis Ababa radio announced the execution of 58 former officials of the Imperial government without trial as well as the execution of the acting Head of State and his followers who had opposed the policies of the military government. The dead included Gen. Aman Michael Andom, the man who had replaced the Emperor as acting head of state, Prince Asrate Kassa, the president of the Crown Council, both the former Prime Ministers Aklilu Hapte-Wold and Endalkachew Makonnen, the Emperor's grandson and son of Princess Tenagnework, Prince Rear-Admiral Iskinder Desta, the Emperor's son-in-law and former defense minister, Gen. Abiye Abebe, and many others. The country and the world reeled in shock. Crown Prince Asfa Wossen issued a statement condemning the executions. When the Prince and his family moved to London soon afterwards, they notified the Ethiopian Embassy of their imminent arrival. The charge-d'affairs in London telegrammed a message to Addis Ababa and asked for instructions as to how he was to receive Asfa Wossen -- was it as Crown Prince or as the officially designated King and Head of State of Ethiopia? The Dergue (after some angry exchange of views with monarchist members who did not long survive) ordered him to receive the Prince and his family as he would any regular Ethiopian. Soon afterwards, the military government announced its communist program and the abolishment of the monarchy and all Imperial titles and ranks.

The following year was a horrible one for the Imperial family. The men of the Imperial family inside Ethiopia (basically the sons of the Duke of Harrar) were imprisoned in the cellars of the old Imperial (Menelik) Palace. The women were first kept at the home of the Duchess of Harrar, but they were later moved to the Akaki Prison. Known as Kerchele or Alem Bekagn (the end of the world), it is one of the worst prisons in Africa . While under arrest here, Princess Ijigayehu, daughter of the Crown Prince by his first marriage and the mother of six, died of illness and medical neglect. Not long afterwards, Princess Tenagnework's daughter Mary also died. On August 24, 1975, Radio Ethiopia announced that the "ex-King" Haile Sellassie had died the previous night of an unspecified illness. It was also announced that "the ceremony of burial" had already been held. What actually happened was that the Dergue military council voted to kill him in secret -- the Emperor had been strangled. His body was wrapped in a blanket, tied up with rope and buried in a deep grave, over which the leader of the Dergue was to build a latrine for his offices -- an act of the highest disrespect.

Crown Prince Asfa Wossen lived in quiet exile in London with his wife and children. After the death of his daughter, his ex-wife, Princess Wollete Israel, obtained custody of Princess Ijigayehu's children (their father was imprisoned). Princess Wolette Israel, in spite of being the ex-wife of the Crown Prince and the sister of the leader of a major rebel group (Ras Mengesha Seyoum), was the only princess not placed in prison. Although the Crown Prince's grandchildren were not imprisoned, they were under considerable risk, and there was constant fear that they would be arrested (or worse). In 1977, together with an American missionary family in Addis Ababa, the Imperial Family was able to engineer the escape from Ethiopia of the six children of the late Princess Ijigayehu, the four children of the imprisoned Princess Seble Desta, and the daughter of Princess Aida Desta (and daughter of Ras Mengesha). Thus, all the Crown Prince's grandchildren and the grandchildren of his sister Princess Tenagnework (with the exception of the daughter of Prince Rear Admiral Iskinder Desta) were now out of Ethiopia, thereby insuring the continuation of the dynasty. Princess Tenagnework and her daughters and Princess Sara Duchess of Harrar and her sons remained in prison. Princess Mahisente, widow of Prince Sahle Sellassie and her son Prince Ermias, were out of Ethiopia at the time of the revolution, and, thus, they also escaped imprisonment. Do did Prince Dawit Makonnen, one of the sons of the Duke and Duchess of Harrar. Princess Sophia Desta's daughter also lived in London, as did Princess Tenangework's husband Ras Andarkachew. Various other exiles congregated in London as well -- this was the basic make up of the Imperial family in exile. The Imperial family avoided political involvement for years and kept a low profile. In 1981, Emperor Haile Selassie's niece, Princess Yeshashework Yilma, became the first member of the family released from prison due to ill health and age. She died only a few months later in Ethiopia. Then, in 1988, the government released from prison the women of the Imperial family. Those released were Princess Tenagnework Haile Selassie, her daughters Princesses Aida, Seble, Sophia and Hirut Desta, Princess Sara Gizaw Duchess of Harrar, and Princess Zuriashwork Gebregziabher, widow of Prince Asrate Kassa. The official announcement of their release referred to each of the women as Mrs. rather than Princess. The international press did the same, but referred to Princess Tenagnework as Princess. A year later, the sons of the Duke and Duchess of Harrar were also released from prison -- the entire Imperial family was now out of jail. Eventually, they would all leave for Britain, the United States, and Canada.

His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor-in-Exile

Over the years, opposition politicians often urged Prince Asfa Wossen to take a more active role in the struggle against communism. The Prince and his family, however, were afraid that any actions they took could jeopordize the lives of their families in prison in Ethiopia, so they refrained from political activity. The Prince also was a firm believer that the monarchy's future role in Ethiopia would have to be above politics and should act as an impartial symbol of unity rather than the repository of power that it had been. So, although he was clearly an anti-communist, he did not want to be seen as being partisan to one opposition group over another. Finally though, after years of persuasion, the Prince agreed to act. On April 7th, 1989, Crown Prince Merid Azmatch Asfa Wossen was proclaimed Emperor Amha Selassie I, Conquering Lion of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia-in-Exile, at his home in London. He called on the people of Ethiopia to rise up and throw out un-Godly communism and restore the monarchy under a constitutional framework. His wife became Empress Medferiashwork, and his son became Crown Prince Zere Yacob. A year later, Emperor Amha Selassie and his family left London and moved to the metropolitan area of Washington D.C. to be with the much-larger Ethiopian community there. In May of 1991, the EPRDF rebel movement marched into Addis Ababa and deposed the communist government. In response to their call for the formation of political parties, the Emperor authorized the formation of the Moa Anbessa monarchist movement to advocate the setting up of a constitutional monarchy in Ethiopia. He also announced his intention of returning home for a visit.

Under the bright lights of television cameras, in May of 1992, the earthly remains of Emperor Haile Selassie I were disinterred from the place that President Mengistu Haile Mariam had ordered them buried. Mengistu ordered the Emperor to be buried upright, had a very thick concrete and rock slab lain over the spot, and built a latrine over the secret grave. On the same day, the 58 martyrs of November 23, 1974 were also disinterred from their mass grave on the grounds of the Akaki prison. The Emperor's remains were escorted to the church of St. Mary Ba'eta, the Mausoleum of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Zewditu, by weeping relatives and palace servants. Emperor Haile Selassie's remains were placed temporarily in the mausoleum (until the Imperial family could organize a fitting funeral), and he was subsequently buried at Holy Trinity Cathedral next to his wife Empress Menen, just as he had wanted. However, the Imperial family and the Transitional government clashed over several issues. First, the government refused the Imperial families' request for a state funeral, insisting that the family arrange a private funeral, no matter how large or elaborate. They also refused to guarantee security for the various foreign dignitaries that might attend, including foreign royalty. The Imperial family decided to leave the remains where they were, in a holy place of great honor at the mausoleum church of St. Mary Ba'eta, until such time as it became possible to give the late Emperor a funeral befitting his position and place in history. Due to this, Emperor Amha Selassie did not return to Ethiopia, but his daughter Princess Sehin represented him at the funeral of the 58 martyrs at Holy Trintiy Cathedral on July 11, 1992. The Emperor's health suffered over time, but he continued to voice his opinion and offer advice on certain national issues from his home in exile. He strenuously denounced the referendum on Eritrean independence and spoke out against any move to separate Eritreans from their motherland Ethiopia. He also protested the arrest of members of opposition parties in Ethiopia. He was an avid promoter of democratic change in Ethiopia, a supporter of the rule of law, and he advocated the restoration of a constitutional monarchy in his country. Emperor Amha Selassie, in an effort to better organize the monarchist movement, decided to restore the Imperial Crown Council (which had been abolished by the Dergue regime), and whose members had all been exectued or gone into exile. He also had tentative plans to restore the Haile Selassie I foundation established by his father.

After having lived in the second exile of his life (from 1973 until 1997), Amha Selassie I, Emperor-in-Exile of Ethiopia died at a hospital in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. on January 17, 1997. He was 80 years old. The death of "the former Crown Prince, Merid Azmatch Asfa Wossen" was announced to the people of Ethiopia by Ethiopian Radio and Television on January 19th. The government also gave its consent to his burial in Ethiopia on the condition that the family not insist on a state funeral. The Emperor-in-exile's body arrived in Addis Ababa on May 1st and was taken to the house that had been given to Princess Tenagnework by the communist government upon her release. His coffin was drapped by the Imperial standard (the first time that flag had been displayed in Ethiopia since the fall of the monarchy) and placed in a tent in the compound where an all-night vigil was held. For the previous three days, a continuous funeral feast had been held at this place, which was attended by hundreds. The following day, throngs of thousands packed Holy Trinity Cathedral. Hundreds of others followed an old Mercedes as the Emperor's coffin was taken to his final resting place. As the vehicle entered the grounds of the Cathedral, huge crowds erupted in clapping and ulultation, thanking God for allowing the exiled monarch to find his final rest in his homeland. The Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, and all the Bishops celebrated the funeral mass and, afterwards, the coffin was lowered into the crypt under the church and laid to rest with the other deceased members of the Imperial family in the Imperial vaults. Both the Imperial family and the government were clearly surprised and stunned at the huge turnout for the funeral. The official press estimated the crowd to be around five thousand, but eye witnesses said that the numbers were many times that figure. Amha Selassie I never reigned in his country, but those who were aware of him respected his commitment to liberalization during the reign of his father and his steadfast advocacy of Ethiopia and her various issues in his many years in exile. It is generally accepted that Amha Selassie would have made an ideal constitutional monarch for the Ethiopian Empire.

His Imperial Majesty Amha Selassie I, during his time as Crown Prince, was the recipient of numerous orders and medals in Ethiopia and abroad. From his father, Emperor Haile Selassie, he received the Collar of Solomon and was a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Seal of Solomon. He was also a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Trinity, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Emperor Menelik II, and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia. He was a recipient of the Ethiopian Military Medal of Merit of St. George and the Distinguished Military Medal of Haile Selassie. From the Queen of Great Britain, he received the Great Order of the British Empire, the Grand Cross of the Victorian Order, and the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. From the French republic, he received the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur. The King of Norway awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. The King of Sweden made him a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Vasa (Sweden) in 1935 and a Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim in 1954. He received the Grand Cross of the National Order of the Southern Cross from the government of Brazil, the Order of Saints Maurice & Lazarus from Italy, the Order of Léopold from Belgium, the Order of the Redeemer from the Kingdom of Greece, the Order of Mohammed Ali from the Kingdom of Egypt, the Order of the Nile from the Republic of Egypt, the Order of the Star from Communist Romania, the Order of the White Elephant and the Order of the Crown from Thailand, the Order of Kawakab and the Order of El Nahada from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Order of the Netherlands Lion from the Netherlands, the Order of the Cedar of Lebanon, the Order of the Black Star from Benin, and the Order of National Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Order of the Chrysanthemum and the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan, the Order of Polonia Restituta from Poland, the Order of Merit from Bulgaria, and the Order of Pius IX from the Holy See. He also received the Order of Alfonso XII from Spain, the Order of the Elephant from Denmark, the Order of the Star from Ghana, and the Medal of Honour from Monaco.

The Imperial Dynasty of Ethiopia, the oldest Royal House in the world (along with the Imperial Dynasty of Japan), continues in existence. No abdication was ever signed by Emperor Haile Selassie, nor was any abdication decree issued by him or any of his heirs.

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