The Prince and the Plunder

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

Category: Robes

Red silk royal robe

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A red and gold royal robe taken by the British Museum’s expert on the expedition, Richard Rivington Holmes

Where: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Provenance: Maqdala referenced at length in the museum’s acquisition notes.

See images and more details in the British Museum’s database –

The catalogue entry reads: “Royal robe made of silk brocade. Partially lined with cotton.”

Museum number: Af1868,1001.24
Date: 19thC(mid)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868

A piece of the emperor’s coat

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What: A 12cm-long piece of cloth cut from the Emperor’s coat on the day he died

Where: The Cameronians Regimental Museum (Scottish Rifles), Mote Hill, off Muir Street, Hamilton, Lanarkshire, ML3 6BY, UK

According to many accounts, British soldiers swarmed around the body of Emperor Tewodros on Magdala and cut off pieces of his clothes for souvenirs.

The museum entry, which has two pictures, describes: a “small scrap of material with handwritten note” on a piece of paper.

A note on the paper reads: “A piece of the coat King Theodore had on the day he was killed. A piece of the coat was given to one of the 26th Cameronians by a French Colonel who took it off his coat – He [?] cut this off their piece”.

Accession No:

The 26th Foot (The Cameronians) were a Scottish regiment which arrived too late to take part in either of the main battles in the Abyssinian Campaign.