May 1, 1936-1941 Emperor Haile Selassie I in Exile in Britain
H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I went into exile from 1936 to 1941 when Ethiopia was invaded and occupied by Italy. The first four years he stayed in Bath, England after being given political asylum by the British. However, they would not have him stay in London as it would have been politically embarrassing.
Haile Selassie left Ethiopia on May 1, 1936 days before the Italians took Addis Ababa. He took a train to Djibouti and then boarded a British ship. He stopped in Jerusalem for a few days before continuing to Europe. He spoke before the League of Nations in June but by then it was obvious the league had failed at its job and there would be no opposition to Italy taking over Ethiopia. The emperor then proceeded to Bath, England (Del Boca 184-191)
Upon arriving in Bath, he stayed in a hotel. Shortly afterward he bought Fairfield House and it was there he spent the remainder of his time (Del Boca 191). He was accompanied by his wife, his children, grandchildren, servants and others. In Bath, the emperor had to adjust to a new form of life. He was accustomed to an “army of servants” and living in a palace (Del Boca 182). In Bath, he was living in a single house and he was financially restricted. He was forced to pawn off jewelry on a couple of occasions. In addition to providing for those who stayed with him in Bath, he was also supporting others in Jerusalem and for his children who traveled for school. Bath was cold and the empress was not able to cope with the change and left for Jerusalem (Del Boca 192).
The emperor was able to do little for his country while in exile. In 1938, he traveled once again to Geneva to plead with the League of Nations not to have Ethiopia officially recognized as part of Italy (Del Boca 194-5). He had Europeans allies who traveled to Ethiopia on behalf of the emperor and brought back a positive report in Ethiopia’s struggle against the Italians. This report played a role in influencing the British to come to the aide of the emperor in retaking Ethiopia (Del Boca 197). When Italy declared war on England in 1940, the British flew the emperor to Sudan, helped him build an army, and within a time of seven month, the emperor was back in his country and his position as leader restored.
When the emperor left England, he left the house to the city to be used for the elderly. In 1954, the emperor came back to visit Bath.
Del Boca, Angelo. The Negus. Addis Ababa: Arada Books, 2012.