Amid growing conversations that British royal family return jewels and artifacts who were once arrested in the name of imperialism, Buckingham Palace says it will not return the remains of a teenage prince to Ethiopia.

There has been a repeated and ongoing request to return the remains of Prince Dejatch Alemayehu of Abyssinia, who was taken from his home – an area that includes present-day Ethiopia – aged just seven and died as a teenager in England.

Dejatch Alemayehu, son of King Theodor, July 1868.

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However, it has been reported that the palace has declined the request, saying that burying the prince’s remains at Windsor Castle could disturb the remains of others buried nearby.

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“It is highly unlikely that it would be possible to exhume the remains without it disturbing the resting place of a large number of others nearby,” the palace said in a statement to the BBC, adding that “the Dean and Canons of Windsor are very sensitive to the need to honor the memory of Prince Alemayehu.”

Prince Alemayehu, a purported descendant of the biblical King Solomon, was brought to England in 1868 after British soldiers raided his father’s mountain fortress during Battle of Magdala. His father, Emperor Tewodros II, took his own life after the battle and refused to become a prisoner of the British.

Although his orphan status drew sympathy from Queen Victoria, reports from the time paint a bleak, unhappy and lonely childhood for a prince removed from his home and loved ones. He received financial support from the crown and attended elite schools, but died of pleurisy at the age of 18.

At the time of his death, Victoria wrote in her diary: “Very saddened and shocked to hear by telegram that good Alemayehu had passed away this morning. It is too sad! All alone, in a strange land, without a single person or relative to belong to him…He was not a happy life.”

He was buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

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“Most people who get to know Alemayehu’s history are emotional feel that his remains should be returned. He made it so clear before he died that he wanted to go back,” Andrew Heavens, who wrote about the prince’s story in The Prince and the Plundertold NBC News.

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Jeremiah Garsha, an expert on the looting of human remains at University College Dublin, told NBC that there is no doubt the prince was stolen.

“It was him, he was kidnapped,” he said. “You have a minor who comes to another country as an orphan after his mother dies and then he himself dies at 18 – something should feel wrong about it. He is also looted, like all the other curiosities and treasures that were taken.”

According to The Guardian, the campaign to repatriate the prince’s remains gained momentum in 2006, when the Ethiopian president wrote to Queen Elizabeth II asking for remains to be unearthed.

According to the Ethiopian Embassy, ​​the Chamberlain responded on behalf of the Queen, saying, “while Her Majesty was in favor of repatriation (…) it would not be possible to identify the remains of the young Prince Alemayehu”, as his remains had been added to a grave with nine others .

Many other countries have long produced for the return of a variety of items – including cultural objects, jewels and other riches – which they believe were stolen by Britain and the royal family during the colonial era.

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