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Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Ethiopia

11th June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee and a cup of tea on the road to Axum

Last week we joined friends and contacts from the Addis Ababa community (including from tour operators and travel companies through whom we would be in touch with British visitors in a crisis) on the Residence lawn for tea and Victoria sponge cake to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And despite the odd rumble in the background (nothing to do with the sponge cake) we were blessed with warm and sunny weather.

It was in 1965, 13 years after her accession, that Her Majesty visited Ethiopia. A lively and original painting by local artist Johannes Tessema of various scenes from that State Visit hangs in the Residence dining room. It took in Gondor and Asmara (then part of Ethiopia) as well as Addis Ababa. Local legend has it that the view of the Simien Mountains from Kosoye, between Gondor and Axum, so appealed to Her Majesty that she instructed her driver to stop there for a cup of tea. The State Visit was the occasion to return several Ethiopian treasures to this country, including Emperor Tewodros’s Great Seal and Royal Cap.

In his welcoming speech at the start of the State Visit, Emperor Haile Selassie stated that “Ethiopia looks to the British as staunch and firm friends”. Her Majesty stated that this friendship had remained “the cornerstone of our relations in modern times”.  How right she was and how firm the friendship is still, 115 years after our bilateral treaty of friendship was signed, in 1897.

Earlier in the year, we staged a small exhibition of material from the State Visit at our Queen’s Birthday Party. The photograph above shows the Deputy Prime Minister viewing the exhibition.

1 comment on “The Diamond Jubilee and a cup of tea on the road to Axum

  1. Amazing! thanks for sharing this Mr. Dorey, and I had never known H.M. Queen Elizabeth had been to Ethiopia!

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