Somerset

Grandson of exiled Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie offers thanks to Bath

Emperor Haile Selassie
Image caption Emperor Haile Selassie arrived in Bath as a refugee and made the city his home for four years

The grandson of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie has thanked the people of Bath for taking in his exiled grandfather 80 years ago.

The Emperor arrived in the UK as a refugee, following the Italian occupation of his homeland.

Prince Micheal Mekonnen said the people of Bath "took care" of his grandfather after his country was invaded by Italy.

"He could not believe how they embraced him and that was very emotional for him," he said.

Image caption Prince Micheal Mekonnen, said the people of Bath "took care" of the Emperor

In 1935 Ethiopia was invaded by Mussolini's Fascist forces and a year later the capital Addis Ababa fell. Emperor Selassie fled and made his way to Bath.

"He first came to the city for rest and recuperation," said author Keith Bowers, who has written about Selassie's time in Britain.

"The government didn't want him in London and he felt Bath was a very regal and royal city; he felt at home here.

"He became part of the community and the people of Bath took to him and helped him out," he added.

Image copyright Dan Brown/Bath in Time
Image caption Emperor Haile Selassie inspecting the Guard of Honour in Bath High Street in 1954

Prince Micheal Mekonnen said "My family came here as refugees...The people of Bath took care of him...if I could hug everyone [in the city] I would do that.

"It's wonderful that the people of Bath still remember him."

Emperor Selassie was finally restored to the throne in 1941 when British and Commonwealth troops defeated the Italians.

He returned to Bath in 1954 and was presented with the freedom of the city.

"The image of him parading down the high street inspecting the guard, is one of my favourite images," said Dan Brown, from Bath in Time, who has collected dozens of images of the Emperor's time in the city.

"His stay is a little known part of Bath's history."

Image copyright Dan Brown/Bath in Time
Image caption Emperor Haile Selassie on the steps of the Bath Guildhall in 1954
Image copyright Dan Brown/Bath in Time
Image caption Emperor Haile Selassie receiving the freedom of Bath in 1954

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