Ethiopian Royal Hats Part III: Return to Ethiopia

Longtime reader and friend of Royal Hats, Jake Short, returns today with the third post in a 5-part series on the history and hats of the Ethiopian Imperial Family (see Part 2 here). Welcome back, Jake!

Return to Ethiopia

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After the Italians were pushed out of Ethiopia in 1941 after a five-year occupation, Haile Selassie and his family returned to the country.

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Unfortunately, the triumphant return was tempered by the death of Princess Tsehai during childbirth in 1942 (she is seen below in an undated photo wearing a beautiful brimmed straw hat at a jaunty angle).

After decades of different emperors unsuccessfully trying to get rid of the slave trade that existed in Ethiopia (which was regulated under The Fetha Nagast from the 13th Century), Haile Selassie reinforced the abolition enacted by Italy during the occupation and imposed severe punishments for those who continued the practice. Ethiopia was also a charter member of the United Nations and in the 1960s served as the first chair of what would become today’s African Union, which is still headquartered in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

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Despite his international outlook, Haile Selassie’s rule was still seen as quite autocratic, which saw the restriction of civil liberties and the oppression of minorities. Multiple famines across Ethiopia also led to periods of instability. Nevertheless, Haile Selassie continued the modernization of the nation and improved relations with the UK and Italy while strengthening ones with others. In the gallery below he is shown meeting King Baudoiin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and Marshal Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, and Lord Mountbatten.

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As the longest-ruling head of state in power during the 1960s and 1970s, he was well respected abroad, evidenced by being the person awarded with the most decorations ever; the Emperor was also the only African to be inducted into the Most Noble Order of the Garter and can be seen here wearing the full regalia as a Knight of the Garter, including the ostrich-plumed Tudor-style hat.

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The post-WWII period also saw the most photographs of the Ethiopian Imperial Family. Additional hats during random occasions include:

Empress Menen Asfaw wearing a toque hat with long veiling during a private visit to Israel in 1959. She also wore a white veiled bandeau/half hat, seen in an undated photo below.

The Emperor and Empress’ granddaughters Princess Maryam Senna and Princess Sehin Azebe (daughters of Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen), were seen in brimmed fedoras while in school in the UK. Other granddaughters, Princess Sophia Desta and Princess Mamite, are shown below. Pricess Mamite wore a large domed calot with some veiling, traveling home from the UK for summer holidays in 1958.

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The Empress often wore head wraps; 

and transparent turbans.

Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen and then-Ambassador Ato-Abebe Retta wearing homburg hats in London in 1951.

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Finally, this gallery shows the the Ethiopian royal tiaras. It’s an impressive collection!

Another informative post, Jake- thank you! The Empress’ transparent turbans are unique and the Ethiopian royal tiara collection is far greater than I imagined! I look forward to next week’s post. 

Images from Getty and social media as indicated

6 thoughts on “Ethiopian Royal Hats Part III: Return to Ethiopia

  1. Well, this was full of “I did not know that!” bits of information and photos – thank you very much! The Empress’s transparent turbans are a bit like the Queen’s Chelsea Flower Show hair net! (ie a statement of style, not a practical item).

  2. Thanks HatQueen for the additional photos of the Empress! Her turbans, especially the more transparent ones, remind me a bit of the linen headwraps/head coverings many Ethiopian Orthodox women wear for church (although other times too):
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    This would make sense as the Empress was known for her deep Christian faith. While unfortunately not embeddable, here is another photo of the Empress in another turban that certainly looks closest to the linen head covering while meeting then-Crown Princess Michiko when she and Akihito visited Ethiopia in 1960 (a few more photos about this trip coming up in the Part IV, so stay tuned!):

  3. Charming shot of the emperor and empress with their young grandchildren

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