PICTURES: Blue plaque unveiled at Tropicana for Emperor exiled during World War Two

PUBLISHED: 07:55 28 September 2019

Ras Bandele Sallas, John Crockford-Hawley of Weston Civic Society, grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen, Weston mayor Mark Canniford and Moroaw Salassie. Picture: Jeremy Long

Ras Bandele Sallas, John Crockford-Hawley of Weston Civic Society, grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen, Weston mayor Mark Canniford and Moroaw Salassie. Picture: Jeremy Long

(C)2016 Jeremy Long / JCLPhotography, all rights reserved

A blue plaque in honour of an African Emperor has been unveiled.

John Crockford-Hawley of the Civic Society with Selassie's grandson Prince Micheal Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley of the Civic Society with Selassie's grandson Prince Micheal Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy Long

Weston Town Council teamed up with Fairfield House in Bath to remember Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's fascist regime invaded Ethiopia in 1935, the Royal Navy sent HMS Capetown to rescue the royal family and they settled in England for the duration of World War Two.

The family's home during his time in exile from 1936-41 was Fairfield House, in Bath, a grade-II listed building.

John Crockford-Hawley, Prince Michael Mekonnen and Mark Canniford. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley, Prince Michael Mekonnen and Mark Canniford. Picture: Jeremy Long

During his time living in Bath, the Emperor often visited Weston, where he enjoyed swimming in the open air pool at the Tropicana.

Although invited to, he never jumped the queue and would happily chat with other visitors.

He contemplated buying a house in Weston, according to rumours.

The blue plaque was unveiled at the Tropicana. Picture: Jeremy LongThe blue plaque was unveiled at the Tropicana. Picture: Jeremy Long

When the war ended, Selassie returned home and reigned for another 30 years until he was deposed in the 1974 Soviet-backed revolution and died a year later.

Selassie is a defining figure in modern Ethiopian history and is worshipped as God incarnate by the Rastafari movement, which originated in Jamaica during the 1930s.

Rastafarians regard Selassie as the second coming of Christ and the movement was supported by legendary reggae musician, Bob Marley.

In a double celebration on Sunday, a blue plaque, which was part funded by Weston Civic Society, was unveiled on the Tropicana building by Selassie's grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen, who then travelled to Bath to unveil a similar plaque at Fairfield House.

Town council clerk, Malcolm Nicholson, said: "We are honoured to have this association of our town with the royal family of Ethiopia, and grateful to Dr Shawn Sobers and the trustees of Fairfield House for linking up with Weston Town Council to recall this important time in history."

Dr Sobers, trustee of Fairfield House, added: "This is a significant day for both Bath and Weston and a long-overdue acknowledgement that an important world leader made the West Country his home.

John Crockford-Hawley speak to attendees. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley speak to attendees. Picture: Jeremy Long

"We look forward to continuing this partnership with Weston, and other sites in the UK which the Emperor had connections with."

Halie Selassie's blue plaque on the Tropicana. Picture: Jeremy LongHalie Selassie's blue plaque on the Tropicana. Picture: Jeremy Long

Halie Selassie's grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy LongHalie Selassie's grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy Long

John Crockford-Hawley with Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley with Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy Long

John Crockford-Hawley with Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley with Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy Long

John Crockford-Hawley, Prince Micheal Mekonnen and Mark Canniford. Picture: Henry WoodsfordJohn Crockford-Hawley, Prince Micheal Mekonnen and Mark Canniford. Picture: Henry Woodsford

John Crockford-Hawley speak to attendees. Picture: Jeremy LongJohn Crockford-Hawley speak to attendees. Picture: Jeremy Long

Halie Selassie's grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy LongHalie Selassie's grandson Prince Michael Mekonnen. Picture: Jeremy Long

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