The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Coronation of HIM Haile Selassie - 2 Nov 1930

Author - John Mellors

The year 2005 marks the 75th anniversary of the Coronation of Haile Selassie at St George's Cathedral, Addis Ababa. Many countries sent representatives to the coronation and the event was well covered by the news media of the time.

Nearly 40 photographs relating to the coronation were found in a collection of photographs and scrapbooks that once belonged to Mrs Agnes Willoughby Bancroft, an American missionary nurse at the George Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, who traveled to Ethiopia in June 1929. She was a keen photographer and took many photographs of her life at the hospital. More details can be found in her article From the Red Sea Coast to Ethiopia's Imperial City that was reproduced in the Winter 2004 edition of News File.

Some of the photographs of the Coronation may have been taken by her but it is thought that the majority were probably bought as souvenirs at the time. Most of the photographs are uncredited. None have any text relating to the events other than ink inscriptions written by Mrs Willoughby Bancroft.

Ten of the photographs were reproduced in the Winter 2004 edition of News File. All are now included in a 'Photo Gallery' Coronation of Haile Selassie 1, 3 November 1930. The level of detail in many of them is excellent. It can be seen that the soldiers being inspected at the station are all barefoot (photo 10). Miss Willoughby notes that the Coronation arch (photo 4) is a 'wooden and muslin structure'. Three men can be seen on the top of the arch presumably fitting the 'Vive L'Empereur' sign in place (photos 5 and 6). Note also the temporary canvas extension to the Cathedral (photo 30) and the 'Movietone News' lorry in some of the photos (eg photos 31, 34 and 37).

First Published in News File Summer 2005

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