Lady Meux’s intention was, however, frustrated. Ethiopia was in a sense robbed a second time—for the manuscripts were retained in England.
X. Twentieth century piecemeal restitution
The story of the loot from Maqdala came to the fore again several times in the twentieth century, and will continue to do so, no doubt, until restitution is finally made.
The British Government, though thus far apparently unwilling to recognise what would now be considered the original immorality of looting Tewodros’s capital, found it convenient, when suitable occasions arose, to dole out a few articles of loot, almost as articles of charity.
During the visit of Ras Tafari Makonnen, the future Emperor Haile Sellassie, to Britain in 1924, the British Government thus arranged to send the then Ethiopian ruler, Empress Zawditu, one of the Tewodros’s two crowns. The one selected was silver-gilt, enabling the Victoria and Albert Museum to retain the more valuable, gold crown.
Forty years later, at the end of Queen Elizabeth’s State visit to Ethiopia in 1965, the British Government likewise arranged that Her Majesty should present Emperor Haile Sellassie, with Tewodros’s royal cap and seal.