ON THIS DAY    14 October      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1954: Ethiopian emperor visits UK

VIDEO : UK state visit by Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie

Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie has arrived in Portsmouth on the cruiser the Gambia.

His visit is part of a world tour, his first since his triumphant return to Ethiopia in 1941.

The Emperor was welcomed at Portsmouth on behalf of the Queen by the Duke of Gloucester, before boarding a special train to London.

His tour of the UK is expected to last a fortnight, which will include visits to schools and hospitals, the cities of Bath and Oxford, a debate in the House of Commons and lunch at 10 Downing Street.

On his arrival in Portsmouth warships flew the Ethiopian flag and cannons fired royal salutes. RAF Coastal Command staged a fly-past.

In London the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh received the Emperor at Victoria Station in a lavish red carpeted and curtained enclosure.


"We greet you as the Sovereign of an ancient Christian State which has many links with our own Church,"

Queen Elizabeth II

Crowds cheered the Emperor throughout his tour of the capital. His schedule included a visit to the Queen Mother at Clarence House and dignitaries from London City Council and the City of Westminster.

Welcoming him at the state banquet held in his honour the Queen said:

"We greet you as the Sovereign of an ancient Christian State which has many links with our own Church and...as the Sovereign of the country which was the first to regain its freedom during the last war."

Diplomatic analysts say Ethiopia is strategically important to Britain and the West for its geographical position, in terms of African and Commonwealth security.

The Ethiopian economy is receiving Western loans, aid and capital investment to develop its resources of oil and uranium, and bolster its exports, principally coffee.

The International Bank has lent 8.5 million towards transport and communications and British and US representatives are advising on Ethiopia's industry, social services and legal system.

At the state banquet, the Emperor spoke of his gratitude for Britain's help in liberating Ethiopia and his desire for continued warm relations between the two nations.

"Your support and the loyalty of the British people...make today the preservation and the strengthening of that friendship and affection a sacred trust."

In Context
Tafari Makonnen 'Haile Selassie' (Might of the Trinity) 'Negus Negussie' (King of Kings) 'Jan Roy' (His Imperial Majesty) was the Emperor's full title.

Under Selassie, Ethiopia was a founding member of the UN and the Organisation of African Unity.

He is credited with modernising Ethiopia and implementing social reform, but he also ensured that his religious power was absolute.

Until Mussolini invaded in 1935, Ethiopia was never colonised. Britain only helped liberate Ethiopia after Italy sided with Nazi Germany in 1940.

Selassie was deposed in a coup in 1974. He died in 1975 under house arrest, some say in suspicious circumstances, others because of ill health following prostate surgery.

Selassie inspired the Rastafarian movement which considers him a 20th Century manifestation of God.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |