The Abyssinian Boy

Darrell Bates describes Queen Victoria's special affection for young people of exotic origin. One for whom she especially cared was Prince Alamayu of Abyssinia.

Queen Victoria’s albums of family and other private photographs are preserved in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. They reveal that she had a special interest in young people of exotic origin, and her journal and other papers in the Archives show that this interest sometimes went well beyond any feelings she may have had of royal responsibility. One of her protégés was Duleep Singh, the heir of the famous Ranjit Singh of the Punjab, who came to England in 1854 soon after he had been removed from his position as Maharajah of Lahore at the age of twelve.

Another was Princess Gouramma, the daughter of another deposed rajah, who remained in England to marry a colonel and bear a daughter dutifully called Victoria. There was a young Maori chief named Pomare, and a fascinating eight-year-old girl from West Africa called Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who was said to have been a present from the King of Dahomey. But of all those in whom the Queen took an interest the one with the most moving story is Alamayu, son of the Emperor Theodorus of Ethiopia, or Abyssinia as it was called by Victorians.

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