Ethiopia’s legacy of the Princely Pretenders

Ethiopia's legacy of the Princely Pretenders

Ethiopian history has long been known for its “pretender” princes.

This one made the news on this date on April 14, 1910.

On this date on April 14, 1910, according to the Press Association, published by the London Telegraph, “a number of young naval officers have been identified as the authors of the Abyssinian princes hoax. ”
The Press Association writes:
“One has been compelled to apologise to the Commander-in-Chief. Two of the hoaxers have been submitted to a caning. A fourth, who is ill, and a girl, were pardoned.
A delightful little incident in connection with the recent sham Abyssinian princes hoax on the Dreadnought has just come to light. The story is–to use the words of the princes–“Abul-e-debuinga” (indeed remarkably lovely). The incident was the unwitting encounter between the shame princes and a real prince related to the British Royal Family.
The latter was in charge of a duty boat, which crossed in front of the prince conveying the Abyssinian royal party. When the young prince–the real one–arrived at his ship he was amazed at being reprimanded by one of his superior officers for “crossing the bows of royalty.”

— Throughout Ethiopian history, particularly during the era known as Zemene Mesafint(Era of the Princes), it had become common practice among those seeking power over the empire to proclaim “princely” linage to the Solomon dynasty.

These individuals were often regarded as “pretenders”.

Although Prince Zera Yacob Amha Selassie, grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, is regarded as the apparent heir to the Ethiopian Royal Throne, little attention is made of Girma Yohannes Iyasu—great grandson of Emperor Menelik.
Also known by as Lij Girma Ghebresillasie, Lij Girma is also the grandson of Emperor-designate Lij Iyasu. Lij Girma proclaimed himself as the heir to the throne following the death of his father Lij Yohannes Iyasu in 1977. Lij Girma is reportedly married to Claudia Bertram, who, since their marriage, goes by the name Princess Claudia Iyasu Menelike. They have one son, Lij Kaerrod Girma. (Source: Wiki)

(Photo: Unable to find a photograph of Lij Girma Ghebresillasie, I thought this photograph would be intriguing. This is Ras Birru Wolde Gabriel at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie’s coronation. Ras Birru Wolde Gabriel was often rumored to be the illegitimate son of Emperor Menelik II. Nonetheless, a potential pretender ? )


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