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Duleep Singh

Early Photographs in the Royal Collection

Prince Alamayu

Prince Alamayu (also known as 'Alamayou', 'Alemayehu' and 'Alamaiou') was the only legitimate son of Tewodros II, Emperor of Abyssinia (1818–68). When his father committed suicide in April 1868, following his defeat by British troops at the battle of Magdala, Alamayu was brought to England by army officer and explorer Tristam Charles Sawyer Speedy (1836–1910). Alamayu lived with Speedy on the Isle of Wight and was presented to Queen Victoria at Osborne House. The Queen took a great interest in the child and mentioned him often in her diaries.

While at Osborne, Alamayu was also photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron. The multiple format prints of Alamayu in the Royal Collection, incorporating large format albumen photographs, cabinet cards and carte de visite also indicate the great public interest in the orphaned prince. When Alamayu died of pleurisy at aged 18, Queen Victoria was deeply upset, remarking:

Very grieved & shocked to hear by telegram, that good Alamayou had passed away this morning. It is too sad! All alone, in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him […] Everyone is sorry

Queen Victoria, Journal, 14 November 1879

At Queen Victoria’s request he was buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.