The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

The emperor’s gold and silver crown or cap

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A crown or “tarboosh” cap made of silver and gold, said to belong to Emperor Tewodros

Where: The Royal Collection, Britain

The catalogue entry, which has no image, describes: “an Abyssinian crown composed of eight silver, shaped-rectangular linking sections, each overlaid with gold filigree and inset with silver studs, with a circular finial from which hang 24 chains ending in cone-shaped finials.


“Belonged to Tewodros II, Emperor of Abyssinia. Taken after Tewodros’ defeat at the 1868 Battle of Magdala and sent by General Sir Robert Napier to Queen Victoria with Tewodros’ robes, seal and slippers (RCIN 62108). These items were presented to the queen at Windsor Castle by Lieutenant Colonel T.W. Milward on 18 June 1868.  They were subsequently sent for inclusion in a display of ‘Royal Treasures from Abyssinia’ at the South Kensington Museum, where this crown was described as a ‘TARBOOSH’ or close-fitting cap, mounted in silver filigree’ (Spottiswoode, A Guide to the Art Collections of the South Kensington Museum, 1872, p.20). 

“Illustrated in Edwin Arnold, ‘Theodore The King’, The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 225, 1868, p.381.

“Loaned to the South Staffordshire Industrial & Fine Arts Exhibition, Molineux House, Wolverhampton, in 1869.

“Displayed in the North Corridor at Windsor Castle (no.2083), where it was incorrectly described as the crown which ‘belonged to The Queen of Shoa… presented at Buckingham Palace in 1843 by Sir William (then Captain) Harris’.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *