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Archive - Friday, 18 October 2002
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Exiled emperor at home in hotel
FIFTY years ago, the Malvern Gazette recorded the incorporation of the former Italian colony of Eritrea into the African country of Ethiopia.
Why was this of interest to Malvern?
Simply because ten years previously, Ethiopia's ruler, the Emperor Haile Selassie, was living in exile here in Malvern.
"Few now remember," wrote the editor in 1952, "that it was here in the Abbey Hotel that Haile Selassie made his home for a while, and it was here that his granddaughters and the daughters of court officials have since been educated in our democratic way of life.
"I had the impression of a man bowed with grief at the fate which had overtaken his people at the hands of an enemy armed with all the terrifying resources of scientific warfare.
"But his eyes were courageous as well as sad and his bearing superbly dignified as befitted a descendant of the Lion of Judah."
Haile Selassie, formerly Ras Tafari, was exiled from his kingdom between 1936 and 1943 by the Italian invasion.
In Britain for most of that time, he attempted to raise public support for the plight of his country, but gained little attention until Italy entered the war on the side of Germany in June 1940. His reign lasted until 1973, when he was deposed by the army.
He died in 1975, in questionable circumstances, while under house arrest and was buried in secret.