The Prince and the Plunder
‘Extraordinary and thrilling … This story should be known to every man, woman and child’ – Lemn Sissay
In 1868, British troops charged into the mountain empire of Ethiopia, stormed the citadel of its monarch Tewodros II and grabbed piles of his treasures and sacred manuscripts. They also took his son – six-year-old Prince Alamayu – and brought the boy back with them to the cold shores of England.
For the first time, Andrew Heavens tells the whole story of Alamayu, from his early days in his father’s fortress on the roof of Africa to his new home across the seas, where he charmed Queen Victoria, chatted with Lord Tennyson and travelled with his towering red-headed guardian Captain Speedy. The orphan prince was celebrated but stereotyped and never allowed to go home.
The book also follows the loot – Ethiopia’s ‘Elgin Marbles’ – and tracks it down to its current hiding places in bank vaults, museum store cupboards and a boarded-up cavity in Westminster Abbey.
A story of adventure, trauma and tragedy, The Prince and the Plunder is also a tale for our times, as we re-examine Britain’s past, pull down statues of imperial grandees and look for other figures to commemorate and celebrate in their place.
'The Prince and the Plunder unravels the mystery and disappearances at the Battle of Magdala and reveals the most comprehensive inventory of the loot to date. That alone makes it worth a read, but there is so much more. Andrew Heavens casts a critical eye over events, exploring the pretext for Britain's 'punitive expedition' and how it culminated in an Ethiopian Emperor shooting himself with the gun which was a gift from Queen Victoria. Part adventure story, part tragedy and part love story, The Prince and the Plunder takes us from the mountaintops of Abyssinia to Malta, Penang, Scotland, the Isle of Wight, London and St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle, where young Prince Alamayu remains today. I am very excited about this extraordinary and thrilling book and more importantly by the thought of everyone who will read it. The Battle of Maqdala and its fallout should be known to every man, woman and child. One day this story will be taught in all schools, colleges and universities throughout the world. And you, dear reader, are part of that process.' -- Lemn Sissay
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